Moratinos Wants to Score a Political Goal

Everyone knows that the Spanish Foreign Minister has character. No one doubts that Miguel Angel Moratinos is a diplomat of the old school. Of those who don’t try to sugar coat the pill. A guy who speaks frankly and looks you in the eye.

But on the subject of Cuba he has achieved little. The Cuban government always has managed to fool the Iberian executive. Anyway. Above all the presidents of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE).

They are their favorite targets. The Castros delight in showing up the Spanish socialist leaders as fools. Felipe González knows this well. The Seville attorney always believed that in his game with Fidel Castro he held the winning hand.

The old guerilla, shaken by the collapse of the USSR and suffocated by the lack of hard currency in state coffers, lowered his head and seemed to listen to the political advice of his friend, who invited him to make changes on the island.

In the first change, Castro took off the mask and did the exact opposite of what he’d been counseled to do by the Baron of the PSOE.

I fear that the situation is different now. Not because the Castro brothers want to make a 180 degree turn in the state of things in this country. It happens that in this summer as hot as Africa there are few traps and alternatives left to choose from in the commandante‘s trunk of tricks.

The Castros are up against the wall. The economy raised the white flag a long time ago. After 51 years of authoritarian government, people want a different kind of life. The mandarins have two options: either make the urgent changes that Cuba needs, or lose power in the medium term.

And the throne is pancakes with honey for those who have enjoyed it for half a century. Moratinos does not plan to come in as a bullfighter to deliver the last thrust. No. He plans to come to the rescue. Provide oxygen and a decent way out of the debacle that has engulfed the regime after the death on hunger strike of the opponent Orlando Zapata.

Right now, the psychologist and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas is on the brink of death after four months without food in a bed Arnaldo Milián Hospital in the province of Villa Clara, 300 kilometers from Havana.

The government can not afford another martyred opponent. Not at this time. Fariñas is demanding the release of 26 prisoners of conscience of the more than 200 found on the island, according to Amnesty International.

The United States, the European Union and half the world have also asked for this. And of course José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos. The Castro want the pressure removed. They’re going to toss ballast overboard. They may release a significant number of prisoners. Perhaps all those imprisoned in March 2003.

Although it remains to be seen who will reap the political laurels. America is the permanent enemy. The sullen and impassive European Union has treated the government of Havana rudely in recent years. Then you look at Spain. In the end, it is the one with the key that can unlock the Common Position of the 27 European countries.

Either way, the PSOE is the least of the enemies. And Spain, with its habit of mediating in Cuba’s thorny problems, the perfect actor to score the goal. Moratinos is the man chosen by the Castros to sing the victory song.

Closed societies like Cuba are unpredictable. And it only takes an inappropriate word, an outburst on a bad day for the leaders or for distrust, and everything goes down the tubes.

In authoritarian governments the heart counts for more than reason. Moratinos is about to score a political goal. But he’ll need to keep a sharp eye out to be sure the government doesn’t spring a trap. And he falls out of the game. With the Castros, anything is possible.