Christian dissidents in Cuba are hoping the New Year will bring peaceful change and that urgent reforms the country needs will be implemented. Oswaldo Payá, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and recipient of the Sajarov Prize of the European Parliament, said “the time for peaceful change” has come for Cuba. “The patience of the Cuban people has its limits when they see that there is no open door, not even an open window, towards the future,” he said.

For his part, opposition leader Vladimiro Roca said, “We are in the final chapter of this government. It’s a soap opera going on in real-time.”

2003 was a difficult year for Cuban dissidents. In April 75 Cubans were condemned to sentences of up to 28 years for opposing the regime.