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Bush's New Cuba Policy.
Good but not enough
by Stefania Lapenna*
Bush's new policy toward the Castro's dictatorship drew the Media attention and caused mixed feelings among the Cuban-Americans .
The first focuses on the supposed 'negative opinions' of many Cuban exiles threatening not to vote Bush in November.
Many Cubans are in fact not much happy with the new legislation and they see it as 'too punitive',claiming that their relatives in Cuba survive only thanks to the exiles's remittances.
Yet,the media fails to let the entire Cuban-American Community speak ,given that a majority of them,according to a poll,still support President Bush and the new legislation and do so 'strongly'.
The legislation is part of a major plan named 'Assistance for a Free and Democratic Cuba',which aims to help the Cubans to overthrow the communist regime as soon as possible.
The legislation tries to deny Castro other more sources for his own regime's survival,by limiting the flow of hard currency originated by the exiles' remittances and travels to the island.
It is not a punitive measure against the Cuban people nor against the exile community at all,some some media put it.
The majority of the Cuban Americans which in fact favor such a draft know the importance of it.
The tourism industry in Cuba belongs to Castro and his regime,so it's fair to say that because of that,he strengthens the grip on his own people.
They do also know that this plan is necessary if they do really want Castro gone.
Those few cubans which are strongly opposed to such a plan,simply are not interested to put an end to his regime.
They are among those 'moderate' cuban 'dissidents',often on the center left,who prefer 'reforms from within' than a total regime change.
What the media missed is asking the Cubans inside the island what they think of it.
Just ask them whether they still want to live under a Stalinist regime other more years.
Surely,they won't dare to answer you while still fearing to voice their opinions.
Yet,the tens of Cubans fleeing the island everyday in search of freedom and prosperity,might answer your question.
*Stefania Lapenna is a Political Activist and a Blogger.You can visit her blog at :

July 22, 2004

Cuba Releases Well-Known Dissident Roque


The Cuban government on Thursday released political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque from a hospital where she was serving a 20-year sentence. She is the seventh and best-known person let out of jail in three months.

Roque, speaking from her sister's home in Havana, said officials told her the release was due to health reasons. She suffers from diabetes.

Roque, an economist, was the lone woman among 75 Cuban dissidents arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in a crackdown last year after being accused of working with U.S. diplomats to undermine Cuba's communist government.

Half a dozen of the other dissidents have also been released for health reasons.

Roque, 59, said that too few of the 75 dissidents have been freed for her to say the Cuban government is softening its stance on political prisoners.

"Until all of us are back on the street, there's no gesture here," she said.

Roque's early release was unexpected. She said she was told to pack her bags just a few moments before she was escorted to her sister's home.

Her family had no idea she had been freed until they saw her pulling up to the house with her bags.

"We were very surprised," said her 75-year-old sister, Bertha Cabello Roque. "We were outside, and one of the kids said, 'There's Martha!' We are very happy."

Roque, who lost 22 pounds during her incarceration, complained of conditions in the jail cell where she stayed before being moved to a secure military hospital.

"There's no toilet - just a hole in the floor," she said. "There are lots of insects, and very big rats."

She said she had to use fingernail clippers to cut her grey hair.

Roque, a longtime opponent of Fidel Castro's government, said she plans to continue working with other dissidents in the hope of paving the way to a democratic system in Cuba.

She said she has no intention of leaving the island.

"From Cuba, it's not me who must go," she said. "It's those who do harm to the country who should leave. I think that this fight is for my people. I will keep fighting until my death."

Before her confinement, Roque directed the Institute of Independent Economists. She also served several years in prison in the late 1990s alongside leading dissident Vladimiro Roca.

"This was my second trial, perhaps I'll have another," she said.