Cuban dissident Antunez calls for push against Castro regime

On the eve of returning to Cuba after a four-month trip abroad, democracy activist Jorge Luis García “Antúnez” said Monday that Cubans on the island and in exile must aggressively push to end the Castro government.

“We are returning to Cuba, not to wait for things to happen” but to continue attacking the government, García said, because “the Castro system is not going to fall and there’s no reason why we have to continue waiting for Fidel and Raúl to die so we can be free.”

“No dictatorship has fallen by itself,” he added. “The regime must be destabilized. An atmosphere of protest and tension, which the repression apparatus cannot control, must be recreated. The frustration and popular anger must be exploited.

The struggle to remove the Castro brothers from power requires a national strike and must lead to the release of all political prisoners, the legalization of all political parties and justice for government security agents who have “blood on their hands,” he added.

Garcia also said that he was not surprised by President Barack Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro earlier this month “because my impression of Obama is not very good ... He is a leftist.”

García, who spent 17 of his 49 years in prison, and his wife, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera will return Tuesday to their hometown of Placetas in central Cuba. They are considered to be among the most active government critics on the island.

Both received medical treatment while in the United States, he said. Although doctors in Cuba had warned him that he had a potentially fatal heart condition, Miami physicians reported his heart was not that bad but found a benign tumor in his testicles.

They held a news conference in the Miami office of Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, arranged with the support of the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate and the Resistance Assembly, a coalition of dozens of anti-Castro groups.

García also dismissed a report from Havana on Monday by the Agence France Press news agency saying that although many dissidents were allowed to travel abroad this year for the first time in decades, they had “lost importance on the island, moving away from the daily problems of the people.”

The traveling dissidents “ratified their well known criticisms of the Cuban government but did not unveil any viable proposals on the essential problems,” and “adapted their vision to that of exiles,” the report quoted analyst Arturo López-Levy as saying.

García said the Cuban government scored some points by allowing the dissidents to travel abroad after Jan. 14, but added that the democracy activists also scored by denouncing the government’s human rights abuses at every stop.

During their trip García and his wife met with government officials and academics from the United States, Poland, Taiwan, Hungary, Norway and Sweden and addressed the human rights panels of the United Nations in Switzerland and the Organization of American States in Washington.

Their four months abroad, he added, was “more than enough, we believe, to carry out our principal objective, to denounce the dictatorship.”

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