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Castro Makes Overture to Free Speech

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Posted on Dec 22, 2006
Raul Castro

Cuba’s acting president, Raul Castro, hinted at boosting freedom of expression this week, inviting university students to debate without fear. The remarks signal a departure from the practices of his brother, Fidel, who handed over power after undergoing surgery in July.

Washington Post:

Raul Castro, who is Cuba’s defense minister, tempered his remarks by telling the students that a “unified command” is a key military principle, but “that doesn’t mean that discussions can’t happen.”

The notion of freewheeling political debate is almost unheard-of in Cuba, where many residents fear repercussions if they criticize the government. But it is not without precedent. At one time, Raul Castro encouraged open debate, including criticism of the government, at Cuba’s military college. Such debate has been reined in over recent years, but some experts say they think Raul Castro could one day introduce a similar system of free speech in Cuban society.

“It’s true that Raul Castro has tried over the years to open spaces for conversation,” Jorge Dominguez, a Mexican political analyst who has written extensively about Cuba, said in an interview from Harvard University, where he is teaching this winter.

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By Spinoza, December 25, 2006 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great News, true free speech is precious.  I strongly agree with Raul—-BUT Make certain the Ameriscum instigators don’t overwhelm you. In capitalist counties mostly the rich and powerful have free speech.  True effective free speech is almost absent.  Until we do away with capitalism free speech is an impossibility. So what are we waiting for? Abolish advertising as a first step toward freedom.

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By Hemi, December 23, 2006 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Castro’s plea for all oppositional thoughts to be made
public. The few youngsters that have any individual
thoughts will be identified and “rewarded” I am sure.
What a novel idea!

If the Cubans HAD telephones, the government could always
“monitor” the calls. But that’s for a more progressive nation.

Power corrupts, only the landmass changes.

“Please Raul, just a few more upstarts before I die!”

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By street, December 23, 2006 at 3:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“I hope to see good news in Cuba.”

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By JoAnn, December 22, 2006 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It would be great for Cuba to have open debates without being targeted for repression. Now, if we could just have that here!

Also, the US needs to stop piping into Cuba
lies about our Democratic principles and wishes
for Cuba. We need to stop the imperialism!!

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By HeadlessHessian, December 22, 2006 at 10:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was born there and came here in 1961.  I became a citizen of this nation in 1979.  I welcome opening doors and not shutting them, unlike our current republican administration.  This is a welcomed beginning.  I can only hold my breath and hope for the best.


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