Much needs to happen to show change is on its way in Cuba

Former President Barack Obama seemed to believe that treating Cuba’s totalitarian regime as if it were not an enemy of liberty would encourage the country’s leaders to live up to our chief executive’s hopes.

That did not happen. News of a breakthrough in allowing Cubans at least some freedom makes it plain island’s communist leaders remain committed to Castro-style rule.

A few weeks ago, a small group of Cubans marched down a main street in the capital, Havana, protesting cruelty — to animals.

What was startling about the protest was that the regime’s approval of it was unusual, to say the least. Any demonstration of unhappiness with the government in Cuba has been outlawed for more than half a century.

As The Associated Press noted, repression is so severe that when a biologist protested illegal logging and other environmental concerns, he was sentenced to a year in prison for “disrespecting a forest ranger.”

So permitting any sort of public protest is highly unusual. But the one on Sunday was on behalf of animals and not directly against the government.

Only when the regime allows Cubans to demand more rights for human beings will there be reason to think change is on its way in Havana.

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