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    No matter where I live, I will keep working for the freedom of Cuba

    “No matter where I live, I will keep working for the freedom of Cuba”
    REINALDO ESCOBAR, La Habana | Marzo 19, 2015

    Twelve years after the Black Spring, 14ymedio chats with some of the
    former political prisoners currently living on the Island. Two questions
    have been posed to those activists condemned in March 2003: one about
    their decision to stay in Cuba, and the other about how they see the
    country today.

    Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello

    I left prison in late 2004, paroled by the regime for reasons of health.
    They never offered me the chance to go abroad, but it wouldn’t have
    occurred to me. My closest family, and most distant as well, live
    abroad, but I never had plans to abandon the Island. I am a Spanish
    citizen because my family did the paperwork, I visited the embassy of
    that country the day they told me to fill out the forms and then got a
    passport, about four years ago.

    This is no longer the same country it was in the spring of 2003. The
    government has been forced to return certain rights to the citizens,
    regardless of the fact that we can’t make use of them. At that time, for
    example, a Cuban was not permitted to say in the hotels. Now it’s not
    prohibited, but the economy doesn’t allow the ordinary citizen to
    exercise that right. Who, other than “papá’s kids” [the Castro
    offspring] has the money to pay for a room? Another thing is the ability
    to travel abroad. Those of us who are on parole are not allowed to
    travel, or we know that if we do it we will not be allowed to return.

    I remember Cardinal Ortega, in a statement published by the newspaper
    Granma, said that all of us would be set free, but they only freed those
    who chose to go into exile. That is a way of punishing us for not
    accepting deportation, it is a whim of the commander in chief and a
    mockery of Spain and of the Church. On 31 October last year we made a
    formal demand for a document of freedom, but we never got an answer. We
    only have an identity card.

    Angel Moya

    I got out of prison because of the efforts made by the Government of
    Spain and the Catholic Church with the Government of Cuba, but
    especially thanks to the internal pressures, which came from the actions
    of the Ladies in White, the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and
    Guillermo Fariña’s hunger strike. No one ever pressured me to leave
    Cuba. The Cardinal called me and proposed it and I said no. My decision
    was to stay and continue to fight for the freedom of Cuba and I’ve never
    regretted that. It was very important that I had the support of my wife,
    Berta Soler, who has always agreed with our staying.

    The country has not evolved at all in terms of human rights. Just look
    at the lists of arbitrary detentions issued monthly by the Human Rights
    Committee and Hablemos Press. The methods used by the State Security
    include beatings and abuses of all kinds. The repression has intensified
    to prevent the population from joining the activism. It is true that
    they have not been making the same mistake of the Black Spring, because
    that was a failure that cost the government dearly, but they continue to
    imprison people for political reasons and still refuse to ratify the
    international covenants on human rights.

    Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique

    I left prison in November 2010. Just before, Cardinal Ortega called me
    and told me he was preparing for the prisoners of our cause to leave the
    country. I told him I wasn’t interested. It was a decision I’ve thought
    about a lot since that time, but I wouldn’t take it back. If I wanted to
    leave Cuba now it would have to be forever, but I’m not going to accept
    this blackmail. On leaving prison they gave us a little piece of paper
    to get an ID card, but I never managed to get anything legal. My family
    shares this decision and when your family supports you, the decision is
    more firm.

    The opposition still hasn’t been able to consolidate itself. The
    constant emigration of people with experience does a lot of damage to
    us, these exits don’t allow us to consolidate. Of course the regime was
    forced to take some actions, but it was done out of pure pragmatism.
    They have no interest in changing. In this similar situation of
    restoring relations with the United States I can’t see clearly what
    their real interests are. Maduro from Venezuela is an influence in this,
    because he isn’t happy to see there is a possibility of coming to an
    arrangement with Cuba.

    Diosdado González Marrero

    Right now, almost four years after thye released us, I continue to see
    it as a question of principles to have made the decision not to give in
    to the Government’s pressure and accept exile as a condition for leaving
    prison. I saw it then and I continue to see it the same way now. In
    about a week I’m going to join my family abroad. I am leaving the
    Island, but I will stay in Cuba. I tried to leave like a normal visit,
    but it’s not allowed. My wife and I even went to the cardinal to
    intercede, but it wasn’t possible to resolve our request. I am leaving
    for two reasons: my desire to reunite with my children and
    grandchildren, and because we Cubans have to live in democracy. I have
    done my best for the unity of the opposition, but it’s very difficult,
    there are too many individual interests in each organization. No matter
    where I live, I will continue working for the freedom of Cuba.

    Having spent eight years in those places that don’t even deserve to be
    called prisons, and coming back out to the street, I saw that everything
    was worse. After you get acclimated again, you can get used to anything.
    Now we see changes. There are things that Cubans have the right to, that
    they couldn’t do before. Get a cellphone, connect to the Internet,
    travel, those were goals that seemed impossible, likewise with the
    development of private businesses or land leasing, but politically,
    nothing. After Fidel Castro got sick and handed over power to his
    brother, they started to eliminate prohibitions and now, with the
    conversations between the Cuban regime and the American government,
    things will get better still, especially with the flow of tourists from
    the United States.

    Eduardo Diaz Fleitas

    They released me just a few days before I served eight years in prison.
    Cardinal Jaime Ortega called me to suggest that I accept leaving for
    Spain in order to be released. I told him I wasn’t interested in leaving
    Cuba. Having stayed on the Island has been very important because my
    commitment is to fight for the changes we need. I never regret having
    stayed here, and I don’t think I will leave under any circumstances.

    The biggest change the country has suffered in the last 12 years that I
    see is the greater deterioration. There is no respect for human dignity
    nor any kind of improvement in any order of life. Now we need the regime
    to decide to accept real changes and seek peace for the progress of the

    Source: “No matter where I live, I will keep working for the freedom of
    Cuba” –

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