Cuban dissidents salute Obama, no comment from government

November 6th, 2008 - 4:50 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaHavana, Nov 6 (DPA) The Cuban government chose to remain silent, but the dissident movement in the communist island Wednesday saluted the election of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and said it placed the “ball of dialogue” on Havana’s side of the court.”If the Cuban government really wants to solve the problems, now it has the chance. This is the moment for Cuba to speak,” said dissident Hector Palacio Ruiz, of Cuba’s Liberal Union.

Palacio Ruiz read from a letter addressed to Obama, who he met in May in Miami, in which he wrote that the US president-elect “represents like no one else the prospect of a renovating change” that might extend to Cuba.

Fellow dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua, a social democrat, saluted Obama’s win. This election victory could have, for Cuba, “a greater impact than the collapse of the Berlin Wall,” Cuesta Morua told DPA.

“Obama, almost with his election alone, without a direct message, eliminates one of the poles of the local cold war that Cuba and the US have held for 50 years. It is an opening for a thaw,” he said.

Obama’s offer to talk without preconditions to the government of Cuban President Raul Castro “tears down forever and in a positive way the discourse of the besieged fort that the Cuban government has set up for 50 years,” he said.

But Cuesta Morua also said that such a dialogue may not take place immediately. “Raul has not yet responded to the dialogue offer,” he said.

Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe said: “For Cubans, it is very encouraging. Obama has promised to lift some restrictions (on trips and remittances), a very big humanitarian aspect.

“But he also has a positive political impact that could contribute to a gradual change toward democracy in our country.”

Granma, the Communist Party daily, devoted a full page Wednesday to the US presidential election, under the headline, “Obama to the White House”. The caption in the photo alongside the article said: “The candidate of change?”

So far, only traditional Cuban leader Fidel Castro has spoken in public about the US election. He said he considered Obama “more intelligent, cultured and impartial” than his Republican rival John McCain, whom Castro described as “old, bellicose, uneducated, not very intelligent and unhealthy”.

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