The Truth Behind Castro's Potemkin Village

LET the games begin," exclaimed Fidel Castro, inviting tourists from across the world to visit his private island and spend their valuable dollars to prop up his bankrupt government and support his oppressive regime. But the sad irony is that the Cuban dictator has already been playing terrible games for more than 30 years with the people of Cuba.The games which Castro referred to are, of course, the Pan American Games, a world class sporting event that began Aug. 2. Like the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games are designed to foster international goodwill through the spirit of free and fair athletic competition. Why Havana, capital of the only communist country in the Western Hemisphere, was selected to host these games is a mystery. The international tourists arriving in Havana have been treated like royalty. Every luxury has been available to them as long as they pay in dollars - no matter that there is a shortage of nearly every commodity on the island for the Cuban people. Tourists watch the competition in brand new stadiums and relax in equally new first-class hotels built by the sweat and toil of Cuban workers, workers who are not allowed to enter the very buildings they created. A fleet of taxis and buses, commandeered from ev ery city and town in Cuba, take tourists on "approved" tours of Havana. And while Pan Am Game spectators enjoy gourmet meals at "tourist only" restaurants, Cubans stand in long lines for meat and flour that seldom arrive. Castro has put on his best uniform and white gloves for the 1991 Pan American Games. But visitors to the island may be a little confused, as Havana these days looks more like Berlin in 1936, when Hitler used the Olympic Games to gain credibility for his infamous Third Reich. Not even Castro is confident of his charade. In his usual ruthless fashion, the dictator has deployed hundreds of secret-police squads and terror brigades disguised as civilians to maintain "order" and quickly put down any signs or d emonstrations of dissatisfaction with the communist regime. Although Castro and his propaganda machine try to convince everyone that the 1959 revolution has been a success, the truth is that Castro has subjugated the Cuban population and raped the island of its resources. Tourists not blinded by the dictator's ostentatious display can see the despair on the Cuban faces and the stolen dreams in their eyes. The visitors would be horrified if they knew what brutality their tourist dollars were really financing, such as neighborhood spies who report on community acti vities, or the 30-year-old terrorist network that targets almost all Latin American governments, or the torture of political prisoners. At a time when governments around the world are abandoning communism, Castro is holding fast to his dogmatism and tightening his iron grip. Determined not to meet the fate of Nicolae Ceausescu or even Daniel Ortega, Castro is becoming still more abusive in his human rights violations. In 1990, the United Nations Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Cuba and calling for an end to the repression. Castro responded that Cuba would not obey a single comma of the r esolution. Castro has his circus for now, but despite the fanfare of the Pan American Games, he is an anachronism in a world that values democracy and freedom. It will not be long till he follows the path of the dinosaurs into extinction. Cuba's economic crisis is so desperate that Castro would shave his own beard if that would give him the American dollars which he holds so dear. A way to complete Castro's downfall and rid the world of this inhuman tyrant is to pressure the Soviet Union and our allies to stop any and all economic and military assistance to Cuba. Left on the island isolated from the world, with his economy in ruins and empty speeches praising the "glorious revolution," Castro would be cast aside as the people of Cuba forge their own path, one of liberty and democracy.

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