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February 2016
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Hollande And Castro – Plenty of Wine But No Democracy

Hollande And Castro: Plenty of Wine But No Democracy / 14ymedio, Yoani
Posted on February 1, 2016

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Washington, 1 February 2015 â?? Iranian
President Hassan Rouhani cancelled his lunch with François Hollande
because the latter didnâ??t want to take the wine off the table.
Tonight, however, the French leader will not ask Raul Castro about the
issue of human rights violations in Cuba, to avoid annoying his visitor.
A gesture that will affect the image of France much more than having
dispensed with a glass of red.

Facing the leader of a powerful nation with a controversial nuclear
program, the authorities did not want to deprive themselves of one of
the symbols of their identity. But facing the General who permits no
opposition nor independent press in his country, the hosts lower the
tone of democratic requirements, similar to Romeâ??s covering the
nakedness of his its statues to please Rouhani.

In the homeland of â??Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,â? failing to take
advantage of Raul Castroâ??s official visit to demand a democratic
opening would be a huge disappointment. The reasoning from a French
government source, declaring that the question of human rights â??is
always present,� is unconvincing. This is the time to push the
octogenarian caudillo for a commitment to a democratic opening on the
Island in the near term.

France loses nothing if it takes a stronger stance on the lack of
freedom under which 11 million Cubans live. Unlike Rouhani, Raul Castro
will not purchase more than 100 modern Airbuses, not will he offer a
contract for the extraction of thousands of barrels of oil. The Plaza of
the Revolution is only going to offer losses and disrepute.

It will fall to the French executive to silence the complaints of the
creditors of the Paris Club â?? which last December forgave 8.5 billion
dollars in Cuban debt â??when they never see one cent of the remaining
2.6 billion that Havana committed to pay over a span of 18 years. Which
it is highly unlikely to do, because the Cuban system is an expert in
wasting other peopleâ??s money and in swindling those who help them.

The same thing will happen with the 360 million euros of the bilateral
accord reached this Monday to finance development projects. Money that
Cuban officialdom will use at its convenience, but not to empower
citizens to prosper nor to develop an autonomous business network. Over
time, these resources end up feeding corruption, the illegal market, and
the pockets of the olive-green clad rulers.

Raul Castro will promise Hollande tonight that his piece of cake is
safe. As he has said to so many, undoubtedly, he will confirm to
â??friends of Cuba, the Revolution will always remember you.â?
The â??friendshipâ? in this case is inextricably linked to complicity
in and silent acceptance of the authoritarianism imposed on the Cuban

It is just another maneuver to gain time. Hollande will leave office and
a new administration will have to deal with those who have spent nearly
six decades in power in Cuba, and the story will start again at the
beginning: commitments, pats on the shoulder, ceremonial photos and a
dinner where the wine flows freely, but where the indecent presence of
democracy is well hidden.

Source: Hollande And Castro: Plenty of Wine But No Democracy / 14ymedio,
Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba –

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