Grim though all this is, Mr. Palacios and Ms. Delgado maintain that freedom for Cuba is near because the failure of the system is by now universally recognized, and Cubans are becoming bolder about breaking the rules. Ms. Delgado, a founder of the independent libraries movement, estimates that some two million Cubans have either visited those libraries or borrowed their books. That so many are taking such risks is impressive, and it jibes with other shifts in behavior. The nation's youth has become irreverent toward authority, and others are becoming less reluctant to complain. There is even a movement demanding that the Cuban peso be convertible to dollars.
This quote from Mary Anastasia O'Grady's article in the The Wall Street Journal about Cuban dissident Hector Palacio's decision to return to his native country echoes much of what has been making its way out of the captive island. There is a sense of expectation in the air, a sense that change is inexorable, and not the vain expectations created by the transfer of power. Despite the recent crackdowns, citizens seem more ready to criticize the regime to foreign journalists, although they do ask that their last names be omitted. Then there are the incrementally growing numbers in the photos sent by the opposition. In one city, citizens banged their pots to show their support for the hunger-striking political prisoners. Another 22 dissidents were hauled away for attempting to show theirs.
More of the truth is emerging in the mainstream press. Harpers does a piece on the opposition movement in Cuba. Conde Nast Traveller features an article entitled "Remains of the Revolution." More and more, there is a valedictory feel. In and of itself, this sense of the inevitability of change becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The jig is up. But do they know it?
Before I start chilling champagne, there is one factor to be considered: The Chinese Model. If the army continues to support the regime, all bets are off. Witness Tianamen Square. Even more discouraging, Raul is and has been the head of the army. Generals are among the prime beneficiaries of the present system. The only hope would be dissension in the ranks. Otherwise, I fear that this will be yet another in a long line of false hopes.