Martha Beatriz Roque: “The Cuban Opposition Has Not Found The Right Path”
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miamia, 25 May 2017 — On the verge of being
operated on in Miami for a traumatic cataract caused by a punch from a
Cuban State Security agent during one of the many acts of repudiation
against her, the dissident and former political prisoner Martha Beatriz
Roque was forceful in evaluating the trajectory of the opposition on the
island, which in her judgment, “has not found the right way to reach the
“We have to engage with the people and in that interaction we have to
transmit to them the reality of the regime, ideas that the people
understand,” Roque told 14ymedio last Monday at the headquarters of the
Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), where she attended a
celebration of the 115th anniversary of Cuban independence.
Roque was the only woman of the group of 74 dissidents who were
arrested, tried and condemned to long sentences for crimes against the
security of the state in 2003, an event known as the Black Spring that
shocked international public opinion. That was her second conviction; in
1997 she was tried for writing the document “The Nation Belongs to
Everyone” when she was part of the Working Group of the Internal Dissidence.
“Often the opponents go out into the street and shout ‘Down with Fidel,
down with Raul, long live human rights,’ but people don’t know what
human rights are, often they don’t even know what their rights are,” she
The opponent recalled how the demonstrators sent by the government
itself often shout, “Down with human rights!”
“We have to reach the people through things that interest them. The
Cuban opposition hasn’t found a strategy that links to the people and
their problems,” she said.
The government opponent believes that the people have not been allowed
to talk about their rights for a long time, so it is useless to try to
explain hypothetical proposals for reforms in the Constitution.
In her opinion, among the serious problems that Cuba is experiencing is
the absence of a future.
“Cubans have no future, so they want to emigrate because they know that
Cuba has no future. We must try to make people understand the importance
of building that future,” she added.
On the Venezuelan situation and its repercussions on the island, Roque
believes that Raúl Castro’s government “fears” the consequences that
could come with the end of Chavismo, to which is now added the
increasingly clear position of the American president, Donald Trump, on
the policy towards Cuba.
“I think things are going to change a lot in Cuba if they change in
Venezuela,” she said. She also said that the path found by the
Venezuelan opposition was very difficult for Cuban dissident groups,
because the conditions are very different.
Roque believes that the absence of concrete actions against the Raul
Castro government by the Trump administration “gave the regime a lot of
strength to continue repressing the opposition” and in particular to
groups “that annoy them a lot.”
The 72-year-old woman does not believe that significant changes should
be expected from Raul Castro’s promise to step down as president of the
Council of State in 2018.
“Castro does not leave power, he continues to lead the Party and in Cuba
the Communist Party is who has power, which means that he’s not going to
leave power at all,” she added, adding that the advent of new figures
such as current vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel will not mean a change
in the system.
“Diaz-Canel is a puppet who just opens his mouth when they tell him to
say what they want him to say,” she added.
Despite the grim picture, the dissident says that there is “slow
movement” within the opposition in Cuba and that this year will see the
first fruits of “the long struggle of the exile and opposition to bring
freedom to the island.”
Source: Martha Beatriz Roque: “The Cuban Opposition Has Not Found The
Right Path” – Translating Cuba –