Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

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Waiting for help

Posted on Mon, Apr. 18, 2011

Cubans wary of proposal
called for term limits. Dissidents say it's a way for him to
hold on to power.
By Juan O. Tamayo

MIAMI – Dissidents in Cuba on Sunday dismissed Raul Castro's call for
term limits, branding it an empty gesture designed actually to extend
the Castro brothers' 52 years in power.

The proposal, if implemented, would mean Raul Castro would have to step
down as head of government in 2018, when he would be 86. His older
brother Fidel transferred power to him after emergency surgery in 2006.
was 79 then, as his brother is now.

The proposal is positive but "doesn't resolve our essential problem,
which is the monopoly on power by a group whose policies have failed for
50 years," economist said by phone from

The proposal is "a threat for the immense majority of the people because
in this way the ruling elites are giving themselves 10 more years of
totalitarian continuity," human-rights activist Elizardo Sanchez Santa
Cruz said.

Raul Castro said Saturday at the opening session of the Sixth Communist
Party Congress that party leaders had decided Cuba's one-party political
formation needed to do a better job of finding and training younger
members for promotions to top jobs.

"In that respect, we have arrived at the conclusion that it's a good
idea to limit fundamental political and government jobs to a maximum of
two consecutive periods of five years," Castro said during his
9,926-word speech.

The Congress was called to approve economic changes Raul Castro is
pushing. The 1,000 delegates on Sunday dutifully endorsed his
broad-brush proposals.

Some analysts praised Raul Castro's talk of term limits as recognition
that Cuba must institutionalize its leadership structures because its
"historic" generation – the top participants in the 1959 revolution – is
in its 80s or late 70s.

Vice President Jose Ramon Fernandez is 87; First Vice President Jose
Ramon Machado Ventura is 80; and Vice President Ramiro Valdes, the
youngest of the former revolutionaries, is 78.

Philip Peters, a Cuba expert with the Lexington Institute in the
Washington suburbs, noted that Raul Castro's proposal did not allow for
more than one party.

Angel Moya, a dissident recently freed after eight years in , said
he would believe the hint of political change "when Raul resigns."

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