Lic. René Manzano Gómez

* 1943  

  • “In our case, we were immediately recognized as conscience prisoners [political prisoners] by the international organizations. I must say that it is an interesting thing - nowadays, the regime tries to avoid by any kind of means the trials. This has recently changed. The regime avoids the trials, that is to say, [not] as it happened to me in the usual [former] practice, in my second prison I was imprisoned for more than a year and a half, without a formal accusation, and of course without any trial. And one day they just let me go. Now, either they do that, or they try to pass to trials just the human rights activists and other political opponents. Trials for common crimes. They create a cause - for example, the police come, they give a tremendous beating to a citizen, and then they accuse this citizen of an attack. That is, of having attacked a policeman. That kind of things. They always try to ensure that the sanctions are for common crimes, that is the situation that currently exists with political prisoners. Many of them, I repeat, are masked by alleged common crimes that do not really exist."

  • “For us, the problem is not with France or with any other foreign country, the problem for us is with the totalitarian regime that exists in Cuba, its repression and the way in which the regime limits the people. The people have no future prospects. That is why the general population, and especially the young people, dream of leaving Cuba. The citizens leave on a raft, surrounded by sharks in the Florida Straits. Or they escape, for example, through Central America, through the jungle, crawling through the jungle with spider monkeys, with all the beasts... But also with the human beasts – with the traffickers of people who extort people, rape women... It is a truly desperate situation, which can be explained by the fact how these citizens are desperate to leave Cuba and to move to any other place. This is the sad reality of our country.”

  • “The attraction [of communism] for me is basically intellectual. You read the books about Marxism-Leninism, and so on, and it is an attractive thing, a beautiful thing. There are no exploiters, everything is in common, man is man's brother... And then it turns out that this is just the theory. But when you come to practice, to a regime like those of Stalin in Russia or like the Kim dynasty in North Korea, or the Castro brothers in Cuba, the practice has absolutely nothing to do with theory, I mean. There is no real collective property. It is simply a state’s capitalism, while the state is the power which controls the means. A bureaucracy with a pyramidal structure, where the chief is simply the one who designates and determines what is to be done, and below him, there is an intermediary rank of the leaders, of the chiefs... And below, the great mass of the people, as said a colleague and friend of mine, whose basic function is to applaud. The only one who has no problems is the one who applauds. He applauds until his hands swell.”

  • "In my specific case, in 1996 or 1997, I became involved with other people of dissent, in concrete, we formed a group called the 'Internal Dissident Working Group [to analyze the Cuban Socio-Economic Situation], created by four people, who were later called the 'Group of Four'. We are talking about the Professor Felix Antonio Bonne Carcassés who unfortunately died in January of this year [2017], Vladimiro Roca Antúnez, son of the old communist leader Blas Roca, of the Popular Socialist Party - PSP, and Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello. These three people and I formed the Internal Dissident Working Group, and then in 1997, we issued a document called ‘The Homeland is of Everyone’ ['La Patria es de Todos']."

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“The regime wants you to applaud until your hands swell”

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Lic. René Manzano Gómez
photo: Post Bellum, 2017

René Manzano Gómez was born in 1943 in Cuba. After completing his secondary studies in an English school, he entered the University of Havana to study law. However, before his graduation came in 1953 the Cuban Revolution and Manzano was no longer able to finish his studies in Havana. His family supported the Revolution, and so he was offered the chance to study the same career in Moscow, where after five years of study he finally graduated with a law degree in 1966. When he returned to Cuba shortly after, he worked in collective law firms, from where he was expelled in 1972 for his counterrevolutionary opinions. Since 1990, he is emerging as a dissident, and since then, he has completed two prison sentences. He is one of the co-founders of the Agramontista Current (Corriente Agramontista, founded in 1990), which unifies independent Cuban lawyers. He is especially known for his essay “La Patria es de Todos” (The Homeland Belongs to Everyone).