Ayestaran Cottages: First stage at the end of November 2007. Second stage, still incomplete, July 2010.

Cuban leaders should have learned the lesson that you can’t commit to dates you don’t have the ability to meet. I will not illustrate this post by referring to the Santiago de Cuba aqueduct, nor to the Ayestarán cottages (see this blog for November 30, 2008), but rather to the expiration of two promises with fixed dates, both having to do with prisoner releases.

Former president Fidel Castro, guided by his eternal triumphalism, announced that the five Ministry of Interior combatants imprisoned in the United States would be back with their families by December 2010. President Raul Castro, for his part, proclaimed in early July 2010 that within three or four months the Black Spring prisoners still incarcerated would be released.

Anyone can understand why the first promise wasn’t kept, among other reasons because in the United States there is that damned thing democracies have called separation of powers, and because a “presidential pardon” is too valuable to waste on something unpopular with American voters. But the second, made by the second, cannot be justified in any way.

I confess to having committed the sin of naiveté because I was among those who believed that it was almost impossible not to keep a promise whose deadline was so close, though I always considered it might be extended.

We all (including Cardinal Jaime Ortega) had the illusion that this Christmas would be the dividing line between two eras. We believed in the sign, but what seemed like a star announcing the birth of new political conduct, generous and tolerant of dissenting voices, was nothing more than a flickering flame of artifice. Leave the country or you will remain in prison! And if this wasn’t finally the glad tidings from the government, may someone clarify it for me and prove me wrong.

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