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Posted July 19, 2004 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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BY MORT CRIM

I returned from my first news assignment to Cuba in 2001 mildly optimistic that the only communist country in our hemisphere was changing—that Fidel Castro was about to loosen up.

I returned from a visit last year, not nearly so hopeful. Between the two trips there’d been Castro’s crackdown on dissidents whose only crime was criticizing their government.

On my last trip, you could sense almost a resignation to increased repression of personal freedoms.

When Castro’s main money source, the Soviet Union, collapsed, 200,000 Cubans became entrepreneurs, finding innovative ways to make ends meet. Castro didn’t encourage these enterprises, but did tolerate them.

Not any more. The government’s stopped issuing almost all new business licenses—for everything from clowns at kids parties to mom and pop restaurants.

Individual initiative is the only hope for Cuba’s anguished economy, yet everyone who shows such initiative is being herded back into the socialist mold.

The reality is communism is dead. But Fidel Castro is once again showing the world his uncanny ability to look reality in the face and deny it.

Today’s thought: Dictators fear freedom and democracy more than they fear bombs and bullets. For once the idea of liberty takes root inside the human mind and heart, there’s no defense against it.

MORT CRIM’s Second Thoughts appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Free Press. Listen to Second Thoughts on WWJ-AM 950 at 6:40, 8:40 and 10:40 a.m. and 12:40 p.m. weekdays or visit [url=http://www.mortcrim.com]http://www.mortcrim.com[/url]

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