Cablegate: International Woman of Courage: Marthe Beatriz
DE RUEHUB #0999 2921613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191613Z OCT 07
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2398
UNCLAS HAVANA 000999
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL WOMAN OF COURAGE: MARTHE BEATRIZ
REF: STATE 126072
1. (SBU) Summary: In response in request in reftel, Post
wishes to re-nominate leading Cuban dissident Martha Beatriz
Roque for the International Woman of Courage Award. As we
noted in nominating Ms Roque for the inaugural award in
2007, while her work is not focused specifically on women's
issues Martha Beatriz has continued to show exceptional
courage and leadership in pressing for democratic change
and respect for human rights in Cuba. Facing possible
additional jail time and constant harassment by Cuban
authorities, she has not only continued to advance her agenda
and push for the release of all political pisoners, she has
increased those activities. By any definition, Martha Beatriz
Roque is a true woman of courage, End summary,
2. (SBU) Roque, an economist, was part of the establishment
until 1990, teaching statistics and mathematics at the University
of Havana. That year, after performing a critical audit of
the tourism industry, she decided to join the opposition.
In 1995, she formed the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists.
In 1997, she was among four key dissidents jailed for signing "The
Homeland Belongs to All," a statement in response to Communist-Party
glorification of the island's communist system.
In all, Roque spent more than three years behind bars for peacefully
expressing her democratic ideals. In the infamous "Black Spring"
crackdown of 2003, when the regime arrested, quickly tried and
sentenced 75 dissidents to lengthy terms, Roque was the only female
dissident rounded up. She was sentenced to 20 years for violating
Law 88 on "Protection of the National Independence and Economy of
In July 2004, the GOC released her on conditional probation,
presumably on health grounds. However, because the GOC could
return her to prison at any time, Roque still considers herself a
3. (SBU) Roque has shown tremendous courage in standing up to the
Castro regime.For its part, the regime continues to show
persistence and creativity in trying to harrass Roque and
intimidate her into silence. It has dispatched State Security agents to
infiltrate her organization; had militants besiege her home,
preventing Roque from leaving; and carried out countless "acts of
repudiation" against her, using humiliating and degrading material.
4. (SBU) In a sense The Cuban government's preoccupation with Roque is
understandable;her commitment to promoting human rights and speaking
openly about the regime's abuses poses a very real threat to the
totalitarian state. On September 28, Roque organizedand carried out a
country-wide protest directed at delivering a petition to the Minister
of Justice asking for the release of political prisoners. The
response of the Cuban government was to detain Roque and many of her
The event helped expose the nature of the regime just as it was arguing
in favor of its anti-embargo resolution before the U.N. General
5. (SBU) As we noted in our nomination for the inaugural award in 2007,
Martha BeatrizRoque may not fit the typical mold for the Secretary's
"Women of Courage" award as she has never focused on "women's rights"
per se. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that her 16-year crusade
in opposition to the totalitarian regime is aimed at empowering both
women and men with fundamental political and economic freedoms that
will enable themone day to build a democratic Cuba.
6. (SBU) While we beleive Martha Beatriz Roque is an excellent
candidate for the award,we do not believe she would be allowed to
leave the island to accept it. We do not think this should stand
in the way of her nomination, however. Roque's mail and
phone communications are monitored by the Cuban Government; her
telephone number is 53-7-406-821. Her address is Calle Luis
Esteban No. 352, Apto. 3, Santo Suarez, Havana.
Point of contact for this nomination is Human Rights Officer Thomas
Hamm; tel: 53-7-833-3555 ext. 2686.