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In their own words ...

"We do not want to break with the existing institutional order. We do not want to resort to violence. We do not want to see the process hijacked by mafias and vested interests."

--Noted dissident Oswaldo Paya, who on Dec. 12 announced a plan calling on Cubans to draw up a program for a transitional government and new constitution for the post-Castro era.

"As ever, we respect all proposals for a political dialogue, but once again repeat our stance that the priority should be dialogue concerning human rights in Cuba, which is what we are working to achieve."

--Manuel Cuesta Morua, of the moderate but illegal "Progressive Arch" group, commenting on Paya's proposal.

"When Americans can finally come to Cuba on vacation, they might want steak, and we hope that steak is sourced from Iowa."

--Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge, at a Havana press conference where she and 250 other U.S. farm representatives urged an end to the embargo.

"The IAPA campaign saved my life."

--Bernardo Arevalo Padron, a Cuban journalist who was released Nov. 13 after six years in jail. He thanked the Inter-American Press Association for denouncing his imprisonment and for pressuring the Castro government to free him.

"Suite Habana speaks about the human capacity to survive, to struggle for a better life, and do it in an honest and clean way. It says that we Cubans can live in the most difficult conditions but have such a strong spirit we still have a purpose for life."

--Ivan Giroud, head of the Havana International Film Festival, commenting on the movie by director Fernando Perez that won five awards at last month's event.

"It's amazing what a little violin was able to do. Three minutes of the national anthem changed my whole life. Who would have thought?"

--Lizbet Martinez, at her Florida International University commencement speech. In 1994, Lizbet--then 12--played "The Star-Spangled Banner" on her violin for U.S. Coast Guard officers who had just rescued her family at sea.

"In this territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base, hundreds of foreign prisoners are subjected to indescribable abuses. Some of the few freed [prisoners] have spoken of the horrors of this concentration camp."

--Cuba's National Assembly, in a statement broadcast Dec. 26 by Radio Havana. "The governor is open-minded on Cuba policy, but I appreciate his position that the policy should not be changed as long as Castro does not change."

--Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, who on Dec. 30 formally endorsed Vermont Gov. Howard Dean for president.

"We both have decided to work from top to bottom. When we see improvement and the level has risen, we'll think about a meeting between the leaders."

--Miguel Hakim, Mexico's vice-minister of foreign relations, commenting on a possible meeting next year between Castro and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

"Fidel Castro is not going. We do not want anything to do with this summit. I am telling you this in the nicest words possible."

--Gustavo Velez, spokesman at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, confirming Castro's absence at the Jan. 12-13 Summit of the Americas in Monterrey.

"If we wanted to classify 2003, we could say, without doubt, that it has been a year of repression--not only against dissidence and the independent press, but against the populace in general."

--Claudia Marquez, wife of imprisoned dissident Osvaldo Alfonso, writing in the Miami-based website Cubanet.
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Publication:CubaNews
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:569
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