For more than a hundred years, Cubans have celebrated the twentieth of May as Independence Day, marking the birth of the Republic of Cuba after years of struggle under colonial rule. The name rings hollow with the continued dominance there of the Castro regime, however, and the United States is marking it instead as a day of solidarity with the Cuban people.
At a White House ceremony, President George Bush noted the Cuban people’s continued struggle and held out hope that one day the occasion would truly live up to its name.
"This is a day of pride, as we honor the culture and history of a noble nation. It is a day of sorrow, as we reflect on the continued oppression of the Cuban people. Most of all, this is a day of hope. We have hope because we see a day coming when Cubans will have the freedom of which they have dreamed for centuries -- the freedom that is the eternal birthright of all mankind."
The Castro government remains the Western Hemisphere’s lone bastion of communist totalitarian rule, where political freedoms have been denied, families torn apart and the island's economy reduced to shambles.
Recent "reforms" such as greater access to cellular telephones and toasters announced by newly anointed president Raul Castro only show how restrictive the government there intends to remain. Telephone chatter yes, but free speech no. Political and economic freedoms are still denied.
Now that the Cuban people have open access to computers, they also should have open access to the Internet. And now that the Cuban people will be allowed to have toasters, they should stop needing to worry about whether they will have bread.
Real change in Cuba requires political freedom. The world is watching and still waiting for a new Cuban Independence Day.