Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

March 27, 1999, Cuba Free Press. >


HAVANA - The trials of the two Salvadoran terrorists, the development of the Gag Law, the debate in Geneva on human rights, the NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, the baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and a Cuban team in this city, and the musical activities in the Karl Marx theater which brought dozens of North Americans here have not been able to divert people's attention from the question: "Yes, but what about the case of the jailed Working Group of Four who recently were sentenced in Havana?"

People want to know. They have an interest in the plight of the three men and one woman who listened, in a run-down courtroom, to the allegations of the prosecuting attorney.

People want information about the four because the official government press calls them counterrevolutionaries without a country and cites only the title and fragments from the document written by the four which led the government to send them to prison. Merely hearing the title - "The country belongs to us all" - causes uneasiness among many Cubans.

So people on the street repeat it and cautiously look for someone who might have a copy. The statement and its links with declarations of Jose Marti (one of Cuba's founding fathers) causes some people to pronounce it with pleasure.

The three men and the woman have remained frozen in the memories of those who saw portions of the trial broadcast during the proceedings. But nobody can be merely kept in memory in this way. Nobody is only a succession of data and adjectives.

One of the prisoners, René Gómez Manzano, tall and athletic, is a silent and cordial man who no longer fits into the current schemes of Cuban life. He is discreet with the healthy custom of speaking in a low voice. He is a conversationalist of the highest quality, agreeable and cultured and with enough knowledge to value silence and to listen attentively. He speaks English, Russian and French with ease. His specialty has been in the field of law although many believe his passion is politics.

Another of the prisoners, Félix Bonne is a scientist and professor and his contacts with his friends caused him to be popular, but he also was liked in the classrooms and laboratories of the world of physics not to mention in his home and on the street, for he was an affable and smiling man who seemed always to have just arrived back from visiting his beloved Santiago in eastern Cuba.

Bonne is direct and pragmatic, in my eyes, and the group of professors whom he organized and directed always maintained a familiar relationship with him.

He is demonstrative but when he is presented as "the professor Bonne Carcassés" he throws a glance of reproach and timidity.

The other male of the group of four is Vladimiro Roca, alert and suave. He is able to concentrate superbly and values time greatly. He meditates and studies with care, examining the situation with all his senses and great intelligence.

He enjoys jokes and handles irony very well. He is also persistent and can become stubborn. He is an educated individual, speaks well and knows Cuban history thoroughly. He is able to be warm and close in his personal relationships.

Marta Beatriz Roque is simply Marta. Behind the figures and the economic calculations and their predictions there is a woman who writes verses and takes refuge in music, which she demonstrates strongly. She is sweet and yet stubborn, and she listens to her questioners and takes notes. She always is reading something, possibly some esoteric document or maybe just a love poem. She is obsessed with gathering information and understanding it. She uses lots of diminutives and still has the capacity to amaze listeners.

These are my personal points of view about four Cubans with whom I've become acquainted during the past few years in my work as a journalist; I am offering a view that is partial, positive and without doubts about them.

I have tried to provide a human approach to these people who are superior to their detractors. Their defects and errors already have been singled out by enemies. Precisely because of such impressions, I am trying to equal the balance somewhat.

Raúl Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

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