Your Beard, Sir, it Smells

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Remarkable news from Cuba:

A resolution adopted by Cuban dissidents who participated in an unprecedented and undisturbed two-day gathering in Havana labeled Fidel Castro's government "Stalinist" and called for the return of "democratic traditions" in the communist-ruled island.

The 10-point resolution, according to a transcript released Sunday, covered a wide spectrum of issues—from calls for the release of political prisoners to unity within the island's dissident movement, which has been divided over how best to pursue the goal of a future democratic society. […]

The assembly attended by about 200 people was carried out—for the first time under Castro's 46-year grip—without incident or obvious police presence. However, about a dozen foreign observers, primarily European legislators and journalists, who had planned to attend the event were either refused entry or expelled from the country. President Bush sent a taped message to the group stating that the United States would stand by their "struggle for the freedom" of their country.

Some caveats: One of the biggest dissident groups refused to attend, calling the gathering "a big fraud against the opposition." Also, as I can testify from heart-sinking personal experience, today's dissident can become tomorrow's Castroite spy (or at least be forced to confess a betrayal). And as always, betting against the old barbudo seems about as actuarily sound as picking the Atlanta Braves to finish last…. But still this is wonderful news. Dissident website here.

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