By Emilio San Pedro
BBC Americas Editor
A leading Cuban dissident has called on the island's acting President
Raul Castro to free all political prisoners and allow multi-party elections.
Responding to Mr Castro's Revolution Day speech, Oswaldo Paya said the
government punished enough people for holding different political opinions.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing
intestinal surgery last July.
The president ceded power temporarily to his brother but has vowed to
The comments by Mr Paya, one of Cuba's best known political dissidents,
are not surprising, given that the regime's few vocal opponents in Cuba
have been making similar demands, such as calling for the release of
political prisoners, for years.
What makes the comments particularly relevant is firstly the fact that
Mr Paya framed his comments as a sort of official response from the
unrecognised opposition at such a pivotal time.
Secondly, it is the very public nature in which he made the remarks by
posting them on his own website.
Dissidents like Mr Paya, who have languished in the political wilderness
in Cuba for decades, are keen to take advantage of the ongoing political
uncertainty that continues to reign on the island since Mr Castro's
In fact, it could be argued that Mr Paya's comments, while officially
directed at Raul Castro, also serve as a reminder to the Cuban people
and the international community that there is, despite government
claims, a real opposition in Cuba which is prepared to enter the
political fray if and when the time is right.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/07/27 20:28:34 GMT