Cuba's best hope is a gradual liberalization, such as took place in Spain during the latter days of Franco. Unfortunately, U.S. policy is directed at a revolutionary overthrow of the Castro regime ("Why Fidel picked this moment to crack down," International Outlook, Apr. 21). These two models of change are incompatible: Threat of an overthrow makes it impossible for the Cuban government to liberalize local political life. The most probable reason for Castro's crackdown isn't even mentioned in Geri Smith's article: recent efforts by James C. Cason, the U.S. State Dept. representative in Havana, to unite the Cuban opposition.
Castro knows very well how destructive an opposition can be when it gets its inspiration from Washington (Venezuela is the most recent example), and he did what he deemed necessary to prevent an overthrow. Many people think that Castro is one of the world's longest-reigning dictators not despite U.S. sanctions, but because of them.
Leiden, The Netherlands