Latin America and the Cuban Transition

If changes occur in Cuba, what can Latin-American countries offer to aid Cuba’s transition? What lessons are applicable? What mistakes should be avoided?

People in Need and the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba (ICDC) has been trying to tackle these questions in the past years’ debates between European politicians and former dissidents and their counterparts in Americas. Although they come from different backgrounds, their conclusions are surprisingly similar: a transition to democracy needs a great deal of courage by local leaders and generous offer of international support.

Various distinguished authors contributed their opinions to this debate. Gabriel C. Salvia (Argentina), Cristián Castaño Contreras (Mexico) and Claudio Paolillo (Uruguay) explain that the relation between Cuba and the countries of Latin America is always ambiguous. It has become amyth, a taboo, a symbol in partisan debates. Therefore anything “can trigger an overnight change in foreign policy towards Cuba” writes Hernán Alberro (Argentina). Jaime Trobo (Uruguay) describes what steps would facilitate this change.

Rodolfo Seguel (Chile), a union leader who peacefully fought Pinochet and other dictators, describes his visit to the real Cuba and the key lessons from the Chilean experience. Cubans might look more towards Europe and North America for inspiration, writes Lucas Garve (Cuba), as the region has a troubled past. However, there are some exceptions, and Chile is most likely the poster child, sums up Fredo Arías King (Mexico). It is therefore important that the Interantional Committee for

Democracy in Cuba (ICDC) continues with its dialogue in the Americas, as described in a first hand account by Jan Ruml (Czech Republic). Julio Andrés Borges (Venezuela) analyzes today’s most pressing issue. He proves in detail how Hugo Chávez is sponsoring the decaying Cuban economy in exchange for thousands of Cuban experts. In another economic paper, Leszek Balcerowicz (Poland) complements Borges’ article by calculating the costs of totalitarism and benefits of transition in Central and Easter Europe.

The ICDC and European NGOs recently put forward many activities. We offer you only a small part of the outcomes, including the policy paper from the April conference in Berlin and an appeal to support the unity of Cuban opposition.

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