U.S. President Barack Obama dedicated a lot of good-will and energy to his visit in Cuba, where he and his family arrived today.
This first visit of an American president since 1959 started with a provocation by the Cuban, still very communist government.
Security forces arrested approximately 50 demonstrators of the so called White Ladies, an active freedom group.
After the Sunday mass at Santa Rita church in Havana ended, the women in white shirts walked down the street.
They shouted „freedom, freedom, freedom“ and demanded the release of political prisoners.
The government had “asked” the White Ladies before, not to protest this day.
Hundreds of uniformed security personnel were now waiting for them. They pushed and carried the dissidents into buses. Some were handcuffed. All in front of the international media and just hours before Obama landed.
The communists arranged a larger pro-government counter- demonstration with 150 people, dressed in communist red, on the other side of the street. They blocked the White Ladies.
This was done in old dictatorial style and served as a reminder what there still is no Cuba Libre.
On arrival Obama tweeted: “Looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.“
He will meet President Raul Castro, but not the legendary revolutionary leader Fidel Castro (89). Maybe the old man was behind the arrests. He dislikes the opening to his arch-enemy.
The president arrived on Air Force One with First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia.
They were greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez only. Another humiliation of the US President. When the French President Francois Hollande and the Pope arrived, Cuban president Raul Castro (84) greeted them personally.
It shows a quite cool reception by the communists to an enthusiastic president, who wants ” to make history”. And it demonstrates the rest of the hate of the old Castro-dictators and the communist elites towards the United States of America.
The bad news continued: heavy rain and no sunshine on Cuba.
The White Ladies (Damas de Blanco) were formed by political prisoners’ wives and other female relatives in 2003.
In 2003 the Cuban government arrested and sentenced 75 human rights defenders, journalists, and independent librarians to terms of up to 28 years in prison. This was the start of this peaceful female freedom movement.
Each Sunday they protest by attending the church in white and silently walking through the streets of Havana.
White is their symbol of peace.
Like known from all communist countries the party and the government accuse the dissidents of “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”, „belonging to illegal organizations”, and „accepting money from the United States”. The Cuban government has criticized the Ladies in White for being „a subversive association of American-backed terrorists.“
Since Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino intervened on their behalf in 2010, they have generally been allowed to protest outside of his church.
How will the American president react to this provocation?
He wants to meet them in the American Embassy.
Was it a good idea to start an open relationship with Cuba and lift the embargo?
The Germans started with Chancellor Willy Brandt and his master planer Egon Bahr a new Ostpolitik in the 1970th, establishing diplomatic relations with communist East Germany (GDR) and signing Ostverträge (East Agreements) with Poland and the USSR. This fresh detente policy was labeled Peace through Rapprochement (Wandel durch Annährung). It worked well. The more personal contacts between East and West Germany, the more demands of freedom. It relaxed the high tensions as well, started a dialogue with the East. But this detente must be combined with a firm commitment to address human rights violations and support the opposition. At the end the GDR economy broke down. The new leader in the Kremlin, Mikhail Gorbachev, started a fresh approach of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in 1985 and stopped the use of force against the very large people’s movement in East Germany, labeled Wir sind das Volk! (We are the people) That was the end of the GDR in 1989/1990.
Another communist country did it very different: The People’s Republic of China started a free economy in 1978. Now mainland China is still communist and very capitalistic too.