Rafael Ibarra Roque was falsely imprisoned on June 24, 1994 for a crime he didn't commit, and spent over 17 years and 8 months in different prisons to block his opposition activities. He refused an offer by the dictatorship in 2010 to be released into exile.
On February 9, 2012 when he finally walked out of the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, Rafael Ibarra Roque spoke to the Cuban Democratic Directorate and made the following statement:
"We have to persevere until the last days of our life and that is the message that I say not only to the brothers in struggle but to the entire Cuban people. That we have to liberate ourselves of this tyranny that during 53 years has punished our people taking them to so much misery, so much desolation and that sooner rather than later the moment will arrive when we will be free."On Radio Republica he expressed that he was “very thankful for all the solidarity and fellowship that I always felt from one of you from the exile and here in Cuba from all the brothers." In an interview with El Nuevo Herald Rafael Ibarra said that his daughters Gladys and Rosalía, both in Miami, were trying to get to Cuba to reunite with their father.