For most, dissident meeting was a mystery. Published May 29, 2005.
HAVANA · The Cuban flags and banners that decorated an unprecedented dissident meeting here last week with slogans like, "For Cuba the time has come," are folded up and stored away.
Scores of plastic chairs that dotted the hilly orchard where dissidents pledged to change what they called Cuba's "totalitarian regime" are neatly stacked and stowed.
After a flurry of anticipation and activity, including visits from a half-dozen foreign diplomats, 150 dissidents and an unknown number of state security agents, the modest Rio Verde community on the outskirts of Havana has returned to its pastoral tranquility leaving many neighbors wondering what all the commotion was about.
Within Cuba's embattled opposition movement some lauded the meeting of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society as a historic turning point in their struggle for democracy. Others derided it as a fraud aimed at weakening the dissident community.
But most people in Rio Verde, and across Cuba, knew little about the event that drew international attention, including a videotaped statement of support from President Bush delivered via laptop computer...