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Canada and Europe have been, over the years, far more sympathetic to the Communist regime in Cuba than the United States. America has been hostile and is often blamed for the misfortunes of the Cuban people. An announcement by the government in Havana this week, however, is a reminder that, in truth, Cuba is the author of its own misfortune. It is a measure of the degree of totalitarianism that was imposed on Cuba after Fidel Castro's revolution of 1959 that his successor as president, his brother Raul, this week announced that, for the first time since the early 1960s, Cubans can buy and sell automobiles.

Private sales of vehicles were prohibited. Russian-made Lada clunkers could be bought from government dealerships and wealthy Cubans and Communist party apparatchiks who travelled abroad could bring cars back with them, but ordinary Cubans could not even sell their own automobiles.

The vintage American cars from the 1950s and 1960s that constitute Cuban traffic have long been considered part of the island's quaintness by Canadian tourists. They are anything but quaint. Rather, they are an indication of how deeply the Castros' Communist government penetrates and controls every aspect of Cuban life. That is loosening every so slightly under Raul Castro, but this used-car "reform," as absurd as it may seem, is also an indication that, in looking at the Cuban regime, Canadians have too often failed to see the tyrant behind those quaint buckets of bolts.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

No cigar in Cuba