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Tuesday, July 26, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

17,000 days

Today is an anniversary of sorts for Cubans. No, not the 26 de Julio anniversary fidel will be celebrating today (of a failed attack on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba back in 1953 - read Charlie Bravos' account here.).

No, today makes 17,000-days since fidel promised, on January 9, 1959 to hold free elections in Cuba. He hasn't done so yet.

And if you haven't read them, George Moneo is publishing the story of a paraplegic's escape from Cuba as a serial.  Read Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Update - The Miami Herald has an interesting opinion piece - "What Castro Won't Say On This Day"

What he won't say is that the Cuban people have lost hope in the future. Most are fed up with the government and their living conditions. Cuban dissidents and other island observers note that popular discontent is as high as ever in the 46 years of his dictatorship.

Here's the reality lived by ordinary Cubans: food, water, housing and electricity shortages and the constant threat of repressive reprisal to any protest.

Read the whole thing.

And the San Luis Obispo (California) Tribune reports that the population is exhausted and tempers are flaring because of the shortages, and the detentions:

"The detentions are completely arbitrary," said prominent dissident Martha Beatriz Roque, who was released from custody Saturday without charges. "We cannot allow the government to continue to treat us this way."

"There must be a response, not only from the opposition but from everybody," Roque told The Miami Herald in a telephone interview, declining to reveal whether any new anti-government protests were planned in the coming days. However, she hinted that they could be organized at a moment's notice.

Roque says opposition groups are on alert all over the island. She says she sees a strong possibility of civil unrest.

The story goes on to say that festivities this year have been scaled back from previous years. fidel is expected to speak, but as of Monday night, the location had not been announced. It reports unnamed opposition leaders as saying the cut back in events reflects the government's fear of hostile demonstrations.

Update - Val has thoughts on today's holiday here, and Mora has thoughts on what she calls castro's festival of himself.


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