Cuban author Valdes 'sceptical' about US rapprochement

PARIS, FRANCE- Zoe Valdes, one of the best-known Cuban authors, said Thursday the historic rapprochement between Havana and Washington was not likely to improve the lives of people in the communist-run island.
Cuba and the United States both said Wednesday they were moving to restore diplomatic ties in a shock announcement that buries one of the last vestiges of the Cold War after more than 50 years of hostility that once brought the world close to nuclear conflict.

"It's very important progress, but for the Castro leaders, not for the people," Valdes, who has lived in exile in France for close to two decades, told AFP, adding she was "very sceptical and pessimistic."
"I don't think this will improve the lot of the Cubans. We will have to wait for the death of both Castros, or even more, for things to change."
Raul Castro, 83, took over from his ailing older brother Fidel in 2008 and set about toning down the government's anti-American rhetoric and taking baby steps toward economic reform, helping to pave the way for the rapprochement.
Castro and US President Barack Obama made simultaneous speeches Wednesday in Havana and Washington to make an announcement that took the world by surprise but had actually been in discussion for a year and a half.
"There is already a bad sign: Obama's speech was not broadcast in Cuba," said Valdes, who was born in Cuba in 1959.
"In his, Raul Castro said: 'we must begin to behave in a civilised manner'. Is he going to apply that inside the country? I don't think so. And we don't know the content of discussions between the two countries."
"After the fall of the wall, we had hoped but nothing changed. There is no freedom, no democracy in Cuba.
"Cuba is a very difficult country. There is also a lot of poverty, and a few very rich people."
Valdes said that like many authors, artists and musicians living in exile, she is on a blacklist and cannot go back to her country.
She was forced into exile in 1995 after writing a book about a young woman's life in modern-day, authoritarian Cuba.

Sunday, December 21st 2014

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