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Cuban Economist Martha Roque Released from Prison Due to Poor Health
August 4, 2004
Cuban economist and democracy advocate Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello was unexpectedly released from prison on Thursday, July 22, 2004, after serving just over 15 months of a 20-year prison sentence. Her already poor health declined seriously during her incarceration and reportedly was the reason for her early release.
As you may recall, Ms. Roque was the only woman among a group of approximately 75 dissidents arrested and brought to trial in March and April 2003 in a major crackdown by the Cuban government. She was charged with unspecified “activities aimed at subverting the internal order of the Cuban State, provoking its destabilization and the loss of its independence, activities for which she received substantial monetary funds from the U.S. Government.” Ms. Roque’s indictment reportedly also stated that she had links with U.S. diplomat James Cason. Following a summary trial of only a few hours that failed to meet international fair trial standards in numerous substantive ways, she was convicted on April 3, 2003.
In late July 2003 Ms. Roque’s poor health worsened significantly, and she was transferred to the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital in Havana, where she remained until her release. Doctors at the military hospital reportedly diagnosed her with diabetes and a blockage in the left side of her heart. While Ms. Roque reportedly received some medical care at the hospital, reliable reports indicate that she did not receive the specialized care and treatment that her serious ill-health required, and her health continued to deteriorate. Of the 75 dissidents arrested last year, Ms. Roque reportedly is the 14th one to be released early. All 75 were adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International following their trials.