23 April 2008

A Raulity Check

My interest in Latin America coincides so well with Mary Anastasia O'Grady's weekly Americas column in the Wall Street Journal. This week she analyzes the real impact of the Raúl Castro government's supposed reforms.

In terms of a real improvement in Cuban liberty, there hasn't been one. Fortunately, in the tradition of oppressed people everywhere some Cuban's aren't waiting for the government to save them. From a recent event given by Ricardo Alarcón, communist bigwig:

Student Eliécer Ávila got most of the international attention with a line of inquiry he read from a notebook. He wanted to know why workers are paid in a worthless local currency, while things they want to buy, like shampoo, are priced in "convertible" pesos, which have the value of dollars. Why are hotels and resorts off limits to locals? Why can't Cubans travel to Bolivia to see where Che Guevara died?
Alarcón seemed stunned. In a rambling, 30-minute response, he defended the hotel ban by saying that as a Hispanic he had been barred from hotels in New York City. He also gave a bizarre explanation for the travel ban: "If all the world, some six billion people, could travel whenever they wanted, the jam in the skies would be enormous."

That last quote is hilarious. Either Alarcón is a complete idiot, or he thinks the Cuban people are.

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