[Marxism] Cuba Releases at Least Four Dissidents

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 29 16:01:05 MST 2004

by Walter Lippmann, November 29, 2004

The Associated Press is reporting, and I have confirmed by
phone call with one of the competing agencies, that Castro's
regime has released "at least" four of the dissidents here,
"WITHOUT WARNING". This denies the four convicts of their
right to a full and fair hearing at which they could have
challenged their release and demanded their right to remain
in custody. Who will step forward now to denounce this new
action, denying them their martyr status?

These people have served barely a year and a half of their
20-25 year long sentences. And there are rumors of further
impending releases to come.

Memories are short for most people, but it's worth recalling
that these people weren't exactly put in jail for jaywalking.

Oscar Espinosa Chepe, who's joyous words are quoted here 
by the Associated Press, was in fact receiving money from
CubaNet, one of the many US-funded outfits in Miami which is
devoted to Cuba-bashing. He conducted a commentary program on
Radio Marti. While Espinosa Chepe was away from home, his wife 
continued to receive payments from Miami's own "El Nuevo Herald". 

No, Walter's memory isn't this good.

It was documented in Oliver Stone's movie LOOKING FOR FIDEL,
which came out earlier this year. You're recall that Stone's
previous movie, COMANDANTE, wasn't shown on HBO which had
commissioned it, since COMANDANTE had been shot prior to,
and thus didn't cover, the issue of those who were later
arrested, tried and convicted for collaborating with the
US campaign to overthrow the Cuban government. (They US
government prefers "transition to democracy", but the
overthrow the Cuban government and system is what it means.).

Here are some notes from when I observed Stone's movie:

I won't try to summarize the movie in detail, but I see
there was a great deal that the advance notice critics
left out. It's important to further recall that Oliver
Stone had made another film last year which the HBO
refused to show since it didn't deal with the issue of 
the execution of three armed hijackers and the trials of
the so-called Cuban "dissidents". This movie centers on
those issues. I have not seen COMANDANTE, the previous
movie, so cannot compare them, unfortunately.

Part of what makes this movie so excellent is the fact
that it began with images of and the voice of three of
Cuba's most famous "dissidents", Paya, Roca and Sanchez,
cuts back to them again during the narrative, and also
features the wives of three of the imprisoned people.
None of the advance notices nor any of the commentaries
mentioned that when Stone asks Vladimiro Roca how he's
able to live, responded he was living off of a grant he
had received the previous year for $50 THOUSAND dollars.

He said it came from something he called the "Parkinson
Foundation", but nothing came up when I tried to Google
it. And among the three wives, Miriam Leyva (whose name
was mis-spelled Leyba in the subtitles), when asked how
SHE supported herself, stated that she was receiving
money from El Nuevo Herald. Her husband had been being
paid from CubaNet, the US government funded website.
Leyva said that El Nuevo is still paying her even though
her husband is incarcerated and cannot send in articles.

Those who've listened to the debate between Leyva and
Fernando Bielsa of the Cuban Interests Section last year,
may recall that Miriam Leyva there stated that her husband
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, had been broadcasting over Radio 
Marti where he had a weekly program. She didn't say how
much he'd been paid for that work by Radio Marti.

Please do not take MY word for this (Walter) LISTEN to
Miriam Leyva, Oscar Esponosa Chepe's wife saying this 
on Democracy NOW, the Pacific radio magazine where she
was interviewed by Amy Goodman a year and a half ago.
It'll take you awhile to get to the point, byt Leyva's
wife speaks excellent English and her words are quite

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews


Cuba Releases at Least Four Dissidents
.c The Associated Press 

HAVANA (AP) - At least four of 75 Cuban dissidents arrested
in a broad crackdown last year were released Monday without
warning, friends, relatives and local rights activists
said. The surprise move raised hopes for additional
releases in the coming days.

Those freed on parole included economics writer Oscar
Espinosa Chepe, who has been hospitalized for months with a
liver ailment, his wife, Miriam Leiva, said. Espinosa
Chepe's cause has become well-known among some rights
groups outside of Cuba through international campaigns for
his release.

``I'm feeling happy now,'' Espinosa Chepe told The
Associated Press from his home, adding that Monday was his
64th birthday. ``I had been really pessimistic. I didn't
think I was going to be let out.''

He said he had no intention of leaving Cuba after his

``I feel Cuban and I want to die in my own country,'' he

There was no immediate word from Fidel Castro's government
about why the men were suddenly released. The latest
releases bring to 11 the number of dissidents in the
original group of 75 who have been freed after being
sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 28 years in
April 2003.

They were charged with working with the U.S. government to
undermine Castro's socialist system, something the
dissidents and American officials denied.

It was not immediately clear whether the other three
dissidents released Monday were ailing as well. The
previous seven released in recent months were all freed for
medical reasons.

Those also freed Monday include Dr. Marcelo Lopez,
Margarito Broche and Felipe Mustafa.

``I talked to Marcelo this morning at his parents' house
and he is fine,'' Marcela Sanchez, a friend of Lopez, told
the AP.

Veteran rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, Marcela Sanchez's
brother, confirmed the releases Monday of Broche and
Mustafa. Elizardo Sanchez heads the Cuban Commission on
Human Rights and Reconciliation, which tracks the island's
political prisoners.

The releases come just days after Cuban Foreign Minister
Felipe Perez Roque said his country had resumed formal
contacts with Spain, whose new government had pushed to
restart a dialogue with the Caribbean island nation.

Spain repeatedly criticized Cuba's crackdown on the
dissidents last year. But the new Socialist government of
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said all
Spanish political parties and the European Union should
work to encourage Cuba to open up.

Hopes for additional releases were running high among
relatives of other imprisoned dissidents.

Over the weekend, Blanca Reyes, the wife of imprisoned poet
and journalist Raul Rivero, nervously awaited more
information after her husband was moved from a central Cuba
prison to a Havana jail hospital.

``Cuban officials have not told me anything, but I'm
thinking what the whole world is thinking - something has
to happen,'' Reyes told the AP on Sunday.

Authorities told her she would be able to visit her husband
at the Havana prison hospital before Wednesday, she said.

Rivero is among a few professionally trained Cuban
journalists who call themselves independent reporters. He
worked many years for state media and was trusted enough to
serve a stint in Moscow, Cuba's former backer, before
breaking with Castro's regime in 1989. He has published
many volumes of reportage and poetry.

Journalism advocacy groups, including the Committee to
Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and
Inter-American Press Association, have campaigned for
Rivero's release.

11/29/04 12:17 EST

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