Lech Walesa addresses Cuba dissidents
Sat Jan 21, 2006 4:40 PM ET
By Anthony Boadle
HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. diplomats arranged for Cuban dissidents to get a pep talk from former Polish President Lech Walesa on Saturday in the latest chapter of Washington's long-running ideological battle against President Fidel Castro's communist government.
"The system will fall because nobody believes in communism," said Walesa, the founder of Poland's Solidarity movement which toppled Poland's communist government and led to the collapse of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.
"You are close to your goal," he said in Warsaw in a videoconference with dissidents gathered at the Havana home of the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Michael Parmly.
The videoconference came five days after the seafront U.S. Interests Section set up a ticker along its upper windows to flash human rights messages and news headlines to Cubans in bright red lights.
The messages included "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up" from U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr's famed 1963 speech.
This infuriated Castro. "I have to analyze what is happening at the Interests Section, the barbarous things and provocations that are going on," he said in a television address on Friday.
U.S. diplomats said they were trying to inform Cubans whose access to news is limited to Cuba's state-run media. "The billboard is an effort to dialogue with the Cuban people," Parmly told foreign reporters on Saturday. "Only in totalitarian societies do governments talk and talk at their people and never listen." The U.S. government has long criticized Cuba's one-party state, born of the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power, for violating human rights and suppressing dissent.
Havana accuses Washington of overstepping international conventions in its efforts to overthrow Cuba's socialist society. The Bush administration has tightened sanctions on Cuba, increased support for Castro's opponents and stepped up radio and television broadcasts to the island. Havana has largely been successful in jamming the signals.
The ticker is expected to set off a new billboard war.
A year ago, a Christmas display at the American mission included a lit-up number 75, in reference to the pro-democracy activists jailed by Cuba in March 2003.
The Cuban government retaliated with huge billboards showing pictures of hooded and bloodied prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a swastika and the words "Fascists: Made in USA."
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Nobody believes in communism
Lech Walesa is a reminder the no evil can last 100 years. He reminds of the days of Ronald Reagan, the man whose actions and ideas helped to bring down the Soviet Empire.