The following editorial appeared Monday in The Miami Herald:
The State Department's latest report on human-rights practices effectively puts the lie to the idea that the piecemeal and illusory changes in Cuba under Gen. Raúl Castro represent a true political opening toward greater freedom.
If anything, things are getting worse. The report, which covers 2012, says the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation counted 6,602 short-term detentions during the year, compared with 4,123 in 2011.
Among the many abuses cited by the 2012 report are the prison sentences handed out to members of the Unión Patriotica de Cuba, state-orchestrated assaults against the Damas de Blanco and the suspicious death of dissident Oswaldo Payá.
As in any dictatorship, telling the truth is a crime: Independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, the first to report on Cuba's cholera outbreak, was jailed in September for the crime of insulting speech and remained there until last week.
The regime is willing to undertake some meek economic reforms to keep people employed. It has even dared to relax its travel requirements to allow more Cubans to leave the country if they can get a passport.
Both of these are short-term survival measures, designed as escape valves for growing internal pressure. But when it comes to free speech, political activity and freedom of association, the report is a depressing chronicle of human-rights abuses and a valuable reminder that repression is the Castro regime's only response to those who demand a genuinely free Cuba. Fundamental reform? Not a chance.