Vladimiro Roca, Doyen of the Cuban Opposition, Dies at 80

Vladimiro was the son of Blas Roca, an important leader of the Cuban Popular Socialist Party. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 July 2023 — The Cuban opponent Vladimiro Roca Antúnez has died this Sunday afternoon in Havana at the age of 80. Doyen of dissidence on the Island, the economist and Social Democratic politician had been suffering from diabetes and Alzheimer’s for some time, according to sources close to the family.

Born in Havana on December 21, 1942, Vladimiro was the son of Blas Roca, an important leader of the Popular Socialist Party, and graduated with a degree in International Economic Relations in 1987. Since the approval of the 1976 Constitution, the young man disagreed because the text imposed “socialism by force.”

“He was always a man of the left,” opposition member Martha Beatriz Roque recalled to  14ymedio . “He was an economist and he realized the big mistakes that the dictatorship had made and he reacted as such,” she emphasizes. “This reaction cost him five years in prison when, together with Félix Bonne, Rene Gomez Manzano and yours truly, we signed the document La Patria es de todos. [The Homeland Belongs to Everyone]”

In 1996, Roca was one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party of Cuba and a year later he created the Internal Dissidence Working Group to analyze the situation of the Cuban economy. After the publication La patria es de todos, Vladimiro and his companions were arrested and tried for “actions against the national security of the Cuban State” and “sedition.”

He was released from prison in 2002, months before the repressive turn of the screw known as the Black Spring of 2003. In 2010 he managed to travel to Banes, Holguín, to participate in the burial of opponent Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after 86 days on hunger strike.

In his last years he had maintained his denunciation of the lack of civil rights in Cuba. “Everyone respected him because they knew that this dictatorship was useless. He was sure that the solution for the people of Cuba did not come through this regime,” says Roque.

There will be no wake and his body will be cremated, family sources confirmed to this newspaper.


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