Cuban Dissidents Meet In Puerto Rico To Seek A Common Position Against The Regime

Cartel del encuentro entre opositores cubanos en San Juan. (Martí Noticias/ captura de pantalla)
Poster for National Cuban Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico (MartiNoticias)

Leaders of the Cuban dissidence arrived on the island and everyone met this Friday in Puerto Rico to work towards a common position with regards to the new scenario that is opening with the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba.

The Cuban National Conference brought together in San Juan one hundred dissidents who are trying to achieve a single strategy among all the groups who are fighting against the regime in Havana, with regards to the steps they should follow to bring democracy to the island, according to what regime opponent Guillermo Fariñas told EFE.

“There is a new context with the change in relations – between the United States and Cuba – and therefore it is necessary to achieve unity,” said Fariñas, who emphasized that it can’t be ignored that the rapprochement between Washington and Havana has repercussions on the strategy of the dissidence.

“We are working to be heard as a single voice for the democratization of Cuba,” said Fariñas about the objective of the meeting, scheduled before learning of the change in relations between the US and Havana, which culminated this Friday with the raising of the American flag over its embassy in the Caribbean capital in the presence of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The dissident outlined that although the change in relations is a relevant event, the ultimate goal of the National Cuban Conference being held in Puerto Rico is to mend fences between all the opposition groups inside and outside the island to agree on a common strategy that will bring democracy to Cuba.

Fariñas added that the work undertaken during the meeting will result in a Declaration of San Juan, this coming Monday, in which a joint strategy will be announced to ensure that democracy comes to Cuba.

Eliecer Avila, the young regime opponent and collaborator on the digital newspaper 14ymedio directed by the critical blogger Yoani Sanchez, told EFE that the change in direction in relations between the United States and Cuba opens a new stage, which civil society on the island must adapt itself to.

“Unity of action is paramount, and so far it has been a struggle against a regime marked by dispersion and by the actions of groups with isolated agendas,” said Eliecer Avila

“The objective is to capture all opinions to prepare a joint document,” said Avila, for whom this is the time to unite on a strategy that facilitates the return of democracy to Cuba, despite the fact that among the dissidents there are those who see the rapprochement as a positive thing, and others who are critical of it.

Thirty papers, prepared over the last year, have been presented during the meeting.

“Unity of action is paramount, and so far it has been a struggle against a regime marked by dispersion and by the actions of groups with isolated agendas,” said Avila.

Sylvia Iriondo, president of the human rights organization MAR for Cuba (Mothers and Women Against Repression), told EFE that the San Juan meeting arose in order to “unite democratic Cuban forces committed to change on the island.”

Iriondo, who lives in Miami, expressed her rejection of the rapprochement between Washington and Havana, given that Raul Castro’s regime does not represent the Cuban people.

The Cuban National Conference, in preparation for over a year, was promoted by United Cubans of Puerto Rico, an organization founded in 1967 with the aim of supporting opposition to the Havana regime from the Puerto Rican commonwealth.

The presence of nearly 20,000 Cubans in Puerto Rico and the cultural affinity were some of the reasons to bring the meeting to San Juan, according to the organization.

The work has been divided into two thematic areas, the first being the coordination of efforts between the interior of the island and the exile, and the second on strategies for democratic change.

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