Cuba Politics

Veteran Cuban dissident Gomez Manzano released

Posted February 16, 2007 by Cubana in Cuba Politics.

Friday, February 9, 2007 (Havana)

Caribbean Net News

Veteran dissident attorney Rene Gomez Manzano, who helped organize an unprecedented gathering of opponents two years ago, was unexpectedly released from jail Thursday after 19 months without being charged.

Gomez Manzano said he had little information about what had occurred in his country since he was jailed in July 2005, but didn’t think Fidel Castro’s illness, or the ceding of power to his brother Raul, had anything to do with the release.

The 63-year-old was released on Thursday morning in the central city of Santi Spiritus and arrived at his home in Havana before noon.

He was jailed for allegedly violating a law that prohibits Cubans from working with a foreign power to undermine the island’s communist system.

He was in a group of dissidents picked up on July 22, 2005 as they prepared for a protest outside the French Embassy.

The month after Gomez Manzano’s arrest, other leading members of Cuba’s opposition had said he was expected to face trial for Law 88, or “Law for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.”

“Supposedly, my case is based on an alleged infraction of Law “88”,” the white-haired Gomez Manzano, looking pallid as a breeze wafted through the whitewashed living room of his wooden flat.

“Therefore, I don’t know what legal subterfuge they used to free me when my record clearly says that I’m accused of crimes against the state. That’s what’s on the document,” he said.

Despite his jailing, Gomez Manzano, an opponent of Castro’s rule since the 1980s, said he would continue his activism.

“We believe we must stay in Cuba and work toward making the changes this country so desperately needs,” he said.

Gomez Manzano said he had undertaken two hunger strikes during his time behind bars to protest against his jailing - one for three days, and another for eight days.

In both cases, he said, jail authorities administered intravenous fluids to keep him alive.

Member Comments

On February 17, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

“We believe we must stay in Cuba and work toward making the changes this country so desperately needs”
How different things might have been if all of us hadn’t run to Miami??

On February 18, 2007, Cuban American wrote:

We would all be living lives of oppression with no freedoms, and poverty, or dead.  Castro had to much power, and with the financial backing from the soviets that he had at the time, he had the means to stay in power.

On February 18, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

J. Perez,
I don’t think it was all a question of “all of us running to Miami,” life is much more complicated than that,  also; you should really just speak for yourself.  It was more of a question of “Salvensen quien pueda.”  This life is not a rehearsal, you only go around once.  Why live in hell when just 90 miles away you have a shot at a decent future.  Whether in the U.S., Canada, France or even Spain was a better place (inspite of that asshole,Franco), Venezuela too.  Just like the East Germans literally ran for their lives accross that wall.  I think it is pretty universally understood why people leave such circumstances.  Five hundred thousand people don’t just decide one day to uproot their whole families and leave a beloved country and a way of life out of some frivolous complaint about Castro.  You should give exiled people more credit than that.
Also Cuban American is right.  Not only did they have the financial wear withall to stay in power they also had the consultancy of the KGB on how to institutionalize oppression, repression and create a state of big brother 24 hours around the clock.  What did you think the Soviets spent 50 years perfecting up until the Cuban Revolution?