With Zamora in Havana trying to keep a flicker of dialogue alive, other members of The Time Is Now have begun to concentrate on a crackdown by the U.S. Treasury Department, which enforces the four-decade-old trade embargo on Cuba. In its own series of arcane chess moves last month, the Bush administration simultaneously eased and tightened the embargo. While unblocking inheritance money so that it can get to heirs in Cuba, it banned people-to-people educational exchanges between the United States and Cuba. It will now be illegal for U.S. citizens to take other U.S. citizens on educational trips to Cuba, unless such visits are "related to academic coursework."
That was a slap in the face for Silvia Wilhelm. For years she has led groups of U.S. citizens to seminars at the University of Havana, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Health. Under the new Bush administration regulations, those trips would now be illegal. "We're really going to fight the people-to-people ban," says Alfredo Duran. He says he will probably take his protest to members of Congress, the State Department, and the White House.
After making it safe for dialogueros in Miami, Alfredo Duran and Silvia Wilhelm must wait for Havana and Washington to settle down
In Cuba, meanwhile, the smoke has yet to clear from Castro's incendiary siege on illegal dissident spaces. Gutierrez Menoyo believes that over the long run the situation can only get hotter. Regardless of the next Nation and Emigration meeting, the former guerrilla commander is sure that one of Castro's next historic chess moves will be talks on legalizing an opposition group -- one like Cambio Cubano that doesn't have any ties with any foreign governments, of course. Why? "Because Cuba needs to reinsert itself into the Western world, to participate in globalization, and have access to international credit over the long term," he asserts. "Because of a series of needs Cuba will have to take a serious step toward democratization. Not what we are glimpsing now.
"They have to take those steps sooner or later, even if they don't want to," Gutierrez Menoyo continues. "They didn't want dollarization and they had to accept it. They didn't want foreign investment and they had to accept it. They didn't want visits from the [exile] community and they had to accept it. They don't want democratization and they will have to accept it."