14ymedio, Havana, 12 August 2022 — 14ymedio, Havana, 12 August 2022 — He left Cuba in 2019 after suffering pressure for opposing the new Constitution and now, from Colombia, he leads an online petition calling for an end to compulsory military service on the island. Carlos Miguel Mateos Rosaenz talks to 14ymedio about the reasons that led him to promote an initiative that has already collected more than 2,000 signatures.
The death of at least four young recruits in the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base gave this 49-year-old émigré the final impetus to publish the petition, but he was also motivated by the concern of many mothers he knows on the island “whose children are about to enter compulsory military service.”
His experience in military service marked him very negatively, and now he regrets that these young people have died because of “the irresponsibility and mediocrity of dictators.” In the request on Change.org, he also describes the regime as in great need of “maintaining an army that only serves to perpetuate a corrupt and murderous mafia in power by repressing the people.”
Mateos Rosaenz clarifies that “the petition is not addressed to the Cuban authorities,” to whom he does not even grant any authority. “Rather, it’s aimed at raising awareness among Cubans inside and outside [the island] about one of the many problems we have.” He wants the initiative to reach as many people as possible and to support parents so that they “don’t send their children to die or to repress the people in rebellion.”
“I don’t think it will lead the dictators to do anything, as if they weren’t dictators, but at least it will create pressure, it will inform, it will move wills.” But even if he has only discreet results, Mateos Rosaenz will be happy: “If I manage to get a single boy in Cuba to save himself from these things, I will be satisfied.”
For this man, who considers himself a political exile in Colombia, his collection of signatures was something that was going to arise at any time. “I have no more merit than that I came up with the idea of the petition. If I didn’t do it, some other Cuban would have done it.” Since he published the application, “cyber attacks on the networks” have rained down on him, but he is not intimidated. “There attacks are praise for me, and they show me that I’m right.”
Now, while continuing to give massages, do acupuncture therapy and teach martial arts, Mateos Rosaenz keeps his eye on the page where every hour the number of people who sign his petition increases. At the bottom of the text he published, a signatory left a brief message: “We don’t need an army. We have no enemies; the real enemy is the Cuban regime.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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