As Cuba approaches a half century of totalitarian rule, the press seems compelled to mark the occasion. Anita Snow's entry into the lists is surprising in that peeking through the edges of the thing are some truths. In this AP article, she starts, of course, with revolutionary school children in the palace of "the fallen dictator." Does that mean as opposed to the present dictator who followed the previous dictator, I have to wonder. Still, try some of these excerpts for a Snow job.
[The communist government is] a system that may be softening at the edges but appears determined to crush any threat to its grip on power, lest it crumble like its one-time godfather, the Soviet Union.
[The Ladies in White] Each Sunday, these women deliver a muted counterpart to the official cry of "Viva Fidel! Viva la revolucion!" by marching down Quinta Avenida, a busy Havana thoroughfare, each dressed in white and carrying a gladiola, silently demanding the release of their husbands from political imprisonment.
[About the internet] But few of Cuba's 11.2 million people have access to the Internet, and anyway are preoccupied with staying afloat in a sclerotic economy where basics like toilet paper often disappear from store shelves and most people eat meat only a few times each month.
Of course, she does get her history wrong:
Back in the capital, on the other side of Havana Bay, looms the Spanish fortress where Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a top Castro commander, directed executions of several hundred Batista police and army officials accused of torturing and killing opponents.
Please note that it was only murderers and torturers who were executed by Che. What was that about history being written by the victors? Nothing about pregnant women and boys, those who felt betrayed by the revolution they helped to power. And please note that Cuba hasn't executed anyone since the ferry incident, not directly, anyway. There is the question of those who commit suicide in police stations or whither away from neglect and maltreatment in the gulag. But don't forget that there were once 15,000 political prisoners, so what's 219? I'm sure that's a source of comfort to Elias Biscet.
Included also are the requisite testimonials from those who just love the revolution. I can spot her those, although it might have been novel to find a man on the street who didn't think the government was just peachy, because she highlights Elizardo Sanchez and Yoani, giving her the punch line by quoting a post:
That may be another sign of the younger Castro's pragmatic, unshowy style. But blogger Sanchez maintains that the revolution died long ago and needs no birthday bash.
"Let it rest in peace," she wrote in a Dec. 14 posting, "and we will soon begin a new cycle: shorter, less pretentious, more free."
Another AP entry in the retrospective vein is the timeline of "Castro's Cuba." Seems to me it could be expanded a trifle. Like how about the date that Castro promised democratic elections for a start. I'm sure there are lots more dates out there they just somehow missed. Of course, we might have a different view of what constituted "key" developments.