EFESan Juan

Leaders of the Cuban dissidence from around the world are meeting Friday in Puerto Rico in search of a common approach to the new scenario created by the renewed relations between U.S. authorities and Havana.

The Cuban National Encounter has attracted about 100 dissidents to San Juan with the idea of formulating a single strategy, shared by all groups struggling against the Havana regime, that would outline the next steps to be taken in order to bring democracy to the island, opposition member Guillermo Fariñas told EFE on Friday.

"A new context exists due to the change in relations between the U.S. and Cuba - and for that reason we must be unified," Fariñas said.

"We want them to hear us as a single voice out to democratize Cuba," Fariñas said about the purpose of the meeting, planned before any of the participants knew about the rapprochement that culminated Friday with the raising of the American flag at the restored U.S. Embassy in Havana in the presence of Secretary of State John Kerry.

The dissident said the final goal of the Puerto Rico conference is to clear away any possible disagreements among opposition groups on and off the island, in order to forge a common strategy for bringing democracy to Cuba.

Eliecer Avila, a contributor to the online news site 14ymedio, directed by opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez, told EFE that with the change in direction of U.S.-Cuba relations, a new scenario begins to which civil society on the island must adapt.

"The goal is to collect each and every opinion in order to draw up a comprehensive document," Avila said.

During the meeting, 30 presentations were made that had been prepared over the past year.

"Unity of action is fundamental, since up to now the struggle against the regime has been very disperse, with each group following its own agenda," Avila said.

The president of the Mar por Cuba organization, Sylvia Iriondo, told EFE that the meeting in San Juan is intended to "unite Cuban democratic forces committed to change on the island."

Iriondo, who lives in Miami, expressed her rejection of the new understanding between Washington and Havana on grounds that the regime led by Raul Castro does not represent the Cuban people.

The Cuban National Encounter was promoted by Cubans United of Puerto Rico, an anti-Castro organization founded in 1967.

Cultural affinity and the fact that close to 20,000 Cubans live in Puerto Rico were some of the reasons the meeting was held in San Juan, according to the organization.

The presentations and discussions fell into two areas, the first dealing with the coordination of efforts between those on the island and the exile community, and the second to do with strategies for democratic change.