Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

CITIZENS DISCUSS THE FIRING OF CHANCELLOR ROBAINA By Graciela Alfonso, Jorge Diego Rodríguez and Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - The State and Ministers' Council of the Republic of Cuba acted on an initiative by leader Fidel Castro Ruz and unanimously approved Felipe Perez Roque, 34, as the foreign relations minister to replace Roberto Robaina.

Cuba Free Press, aware of the importance of this move, interviewed three members of leaders and others with peaceful opposition groups.

Director of the Institute of Social-Labor Investigations Vicente Escobal Radeiro said, "The most significant part of this appointment is the news brief issued by the State Council, which says Felipe Perez Roque is fully cognizant of the ideals and thinking of Fidel. I think that statement represents the motive of the demotion and appointment."

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a member of the executive board of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, said, "The news available to Cubans is very scarce because the mass media is in the hands of the government. In spite of this, it is rumored among the citizenry that Robaina was believed to be a reformist. Replacing him leads us to believe that there will be an unleashing of greater repression against the people because this cuts off any type of peaceful and democratic change on the island."

The secretary general of the Cuban Socialist Democratic Current, Manuel Cuesta Morua said, "It is very difficult to determine what is truly behind this change. But we should take into account that the international community became alarmed and protested the recent measures taking place in Cuba. The Foreign Relations Ministry was supposed to have conducted an offensive that would neutralize the negative image resulting from these repressive measures." He added: "The main thing is not to personalize the failures. The government wants to give a new twist to the internal policies within the country. The issue is not to change the people, but rather the political framework."

Gerardo, 30, a professional said, "A person doesn't become a diplomat by mobilizing the masses to the beat of a drum. Diplomacy is much more complex. It means the destiny of a nation."

Ana, 49, unemployed, said, "The rumors have it that his firing is because the royalty of Spain canceled their visit to Cuba scheduled for May. That's nobody's fault. It's just that in Cuba things go on that have disgusted international public opinion."

Jacinto, 72, a retiree: "Robaina has traveled the world. He knows many presidents and other personalities. If they've taken him out, it's just to give him another important assignment. The man is a brain. He knows more than Fidel."

Nicolas, 55, a warehouse worker: "Big news. Today the supply of newspapers ran out very fast. I had to pay a dollar for one and when I got to my neighborhood it was worth at least five."

Bernardo, 75, retiree, said, "Robaina won't be eating anymore. He's been eating too much on account of his position."

A woman who looked about thirty-plus refused to answer. She merely said she didn't care to speak on the topic.

Sergio, 67, retiree: "He traveled plenty. Lived the good life. Saw the world. Stayed in the best hotels. Always wearing a suit and a tie, with his suitcase full of money and the best kind of shoes. Now it's time for the next guy."

Graciela Alfonso, Jorge Diego Rodríguez, and Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Press.

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Phone: (305)270 8779 -- Fax: (305)595 1883

Copyright © 1999 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.