Cuba: Communism on verge of collapse, says dissident

Armando Valladares, writer and political activist, is in Italy to present the new edition of his most famous work, Against All Hope: a Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulags."

Rome, 18 March(AKI) - Prominent Cuban author and dissident, Armando Valladares, has predicted the collapse of communism in Cuba after the death of former president Fidel Castro.

In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Valladares said that people in Cuba were tired of 'acquiescing to state terrorism' like others had in communist Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

"When Fidel Castro dies, you can be sure the revolution will end shortly after," he told AKI.

Valladares said that the young "sons of the revolution, are becoming ever more politically active, questioning why they cannot travel outside their country, or stay in hotels where tourists stay."

The author who spent 22 years in prison was in Italy to present a new edition of his most popular work, Against All Hope: a Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulags, in the Italian capital in Rome.

He also critised the Cuban regime's recent political and economic alliance with Iran.

"Remember Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, he used to hang communists in parks and had excellent personal relations with Fidel Castro," said Valladares.

"The sole fact that Iran can provide Cuba some type of help, any type of agreement is beneficial for the regime. Simply both have no scruples, thus they conduct business together."

He also criticised media coverage of an easing of restrictions on the sale of electronic devices, such as microwaves and computers, by Fidel's brother and current president Raul Castro.

Valladares had harsh words both for the media and the regime.

"It amazes me how much importance is paid to this news in Europe," said Valladares.

"This dictatorship decides to sell television sets, as if it was some sort of opening in the regime. It simply appears ridiculous to me."

"In reality, what Cuba needs is money," he said. "Remittances by Cuban exiles have been reduced due to new laws that control the sending of money."

The sale of many electronic goods was banned in the 90s, when the end of Soviet subsidies led to an energy crisis and daily blackouts.

Subsidised oil supplied by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez is now filling the gap, allowing Havana's policymakers to ease restrictions.

Valladares also claimed that Chavez saved Cuba from total bankruptcy following the fall of the Soviet republic in 1991.

He says that 100,000 barrels of oil a day supplied by Chavez has prevented this economic collapse, and says the Cuban regime has had "tremendous luck".

The former political prisoner also said that calls for economic and political liberalisation following Raul Castro's accession is nothing more than a 'trick' and that there would be absolutely no changes in personal liberties.

"A dictator named another dictator to substitute him. This is something that the press has failed to mention, they havent really spoken about this fact," he said.

"If George W. Bush named his brother Jeb Bush as lifetime president, there would be protests in all of the world's capitals, the press would be scandalised!"

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba since leading a communist revolution there in 1959 but announced his resignation on mid-February.

The 81-year-old handed over power temporarily to his brother Raul in July 2006 when he underwent surgery and has not been seen in public since.

Cuba's parliament elected Raul Castro president on 24 February.

In regards to America's economic blockade of Cuba, Valladares said that it still sold most food to Cuba.

Valladares attacked the government's crackdown on political dissidents, reportedly after some of them passed flyers containing the 30 points of the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights.

He said they were later 'severely beaten' in the centre of Havana.

This, following the new Cuban government's recent initiative to sign two human rights treaties ratified by the UN more then 40 years ago, which former president Fidel Castro refused to sign.


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