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June 4, 1998, Cuba Free Press. >

THE NEW CHANCELLOR IS NOT JUST ANOTHER GUY BY THE NAME OF PEREZ By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - When newly appointed Cuban chancellor Felipe Perez Roque, offered his first news conference to more than 100 international press representatives, "he carried with him" an official law suit against the U.S. government at the Peoples Provincial tribunal in Havana.

The demand, presented by eight Cuban social organizations, is for human damages which, according to Castro's regime, have been caused by more than 37 years of American embargo. There also is an official government statement in which a trial for the crime of genocide is demanded against U.N. Secretary General Javier Solana of Spain.

This last document was read by the brand new chief of Foreign Relations. The impeccable long-sleeved white guayabera shirt didn't hide the strength or the youth of Felipe Pérez Roque. He left behind the "Little Phil" ("Felipito") of yore: The slim, hotheaded student leader. Contrary to what happened with Roberto Robaina (his predecessor), whom the people kept calling Robertico, such casual treatment in this case will be left for only those closest to Pérez. From now on he will probably just be identified as Perez Roque.

The Cuban government TV broadcast the news conference, which lasted about one hour, on June 2. The audience was able to see the six journalists who asked questions during the news conference. Not a single question was of importance and his responses were very diluted.

One lady whom this reporter interviewed said she would like to see the new chancellor "speak faster and give concrete answers and leave the style of speeches aside, because manner of speaking is no longer in fashion throughout the world and turns counterproductive in such a young politician."

Perez is quite a common last name in Ibero-America, as are Garcia, Fernandez or Gonzalez, but the name Philip (Felipe) has another connotation: One of the most important Cuban scientists of all time was Felipe Poey and Spain has many celebrities carrying that name: the Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbon, former President Felipe Gonzalez and Felipe II, the controversial king who was later immortalized by a cognac brand.

First and last names aside, appointment of a 34-year-old chancellor fulfills at least one of three agreements at the First Congress of Cuban Communists in 1975: To promote the youth, women and blacks. Felipe Pérez Roque is young but white.

Since Cuba became a republic in 1902, a black has never been appointed foreign minister, much less a woman.

By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press


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