A new definition of an optimist: a Cuban who believes that democracy will arrive on the island sooner rather than later and that friends outside the country should not slow the process by insisting that the Cuban government respect the human rights of its citizens. To an outsider, it appears as if the current hierarchy of Cuban leaders is unwilling to leave power gracefully, or in any other way.
When I first visited Cuba not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the same optimists were confident that Fidel was organizing a transition to a new generation of leaders who would be able to maintain the gains of the revolution in a post-Cold War world. Today, despite all the changes and the promises of more change to come, the state bureaucracy is larger than ever and the island cannot produce enough food to feed the population.
Can the infusion of tourist dollars make a difference the Cubans in the short run? My hope is that the transition in Cuba comes soon and in a peaceful manner.