14 December 2006

We'll Talk Ater the Funeral UPDATED

Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said yesterday in a Washington press conference that the Communist regime of Cuba has increased its repression since Castro temporarily transferred power to his brother, Recastro.

He added that the regime’s move towards (Marxist) orthodoxy in recent months is designed to consolidate power and impede the presence of “reformists” within the regime that may try to make any changes.

He also added that the potential “reformists” are waiting for the right time to make a move.

Future US – Cuba relations hinge on what happens after Fidel Castro’s death is announced. At that point, the regime either has the option to continue the repression or opening up to the rest of the world.

The US has publicly spurned Raul Castro’s “olive branch” maintaining that any dialogue should be between Cuba and its citizens not the US.

Interestingly, today the Miami Herald reports that Cuba is using diplomatic back channels to try open a dialogue with the USA.

These channels are through the Swiss Ambassador which acts as an intermediary between the US and Cuba.:

Ambassador Bertrand Louis met with State Department officials and influential members of the Cuban-American community in Washington, including Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, the persons added.

The Swiss embassy in Washington confirmed the visit but declined to comment on its purpose. But those who met with Louis believe he came to repeat Raúl Castro's message that he's willing to open talks with the Bush administration.

In his talks with Cuban Americans, Louis also explored the exile community's possible responses to Cuba's search for a dialogue with Washington, according to those who met with him.

The Louis visit was the first sign that Raúl Castro is pulling diplomatic levers beyond public view to communicate his position, several Cuba watchers said. Castro has twice expressed a readiness to talk with Washington since his brother Fidel ceded power July 31 for health reasons……..

…..The Swiss ambassador carried a message that ''it was time to work out the differences,'' according to one person familiar with the Cuban government's outreach
Article Here

Analysis and what Cubans in Cuba are saying about this from Charlie Bravo at Killcastro

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