Several Cuban exile groups that have had differing agendas have come together to lay out a transition plan for Cuba after Castro.
Posted on Tue, Apr. 19, 2005
BY NICOLE WHITE
A group of Cuban exiles—known to have to vastly divergent political and ideological views—have set aside their differences to craft an 18-point blueprint of how the island should be governed after Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Representatives from 16 groups, including the Cuban American National Foundation, Agenda Cuba, the Cuba Study Group and members of the clergy, spent months working up the template called ``Pillars for a Cuban Consensus.’‘
‘‘This is extremely important,’’ said Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation.
``This sends a message that we are united and a very direct message to the international community that the Cuban community has the ability to dictate our own future.’‘
Among the ideals set forth by the group: the right of all Cubans—both on the island and abroad—to participate in the island’s political future; the elimination of the death penalty and the release of all political prisoners; amnesty for political crimes ‘‘within the boundaries established by international law’‘; and unrestricted travel for Cubans to and from the island.
The groups also advocate the signing over of titles of residential properties confiscated by the government to current tenants, and they support allowing former owners or descendants to claim compensation for those properties from the state.
The seed to craft a formal transition plan was planted during a Cuba conference in Rome in October.
While a broad range of political ideals were represented, the most conservative—and arguably among the most influential—groups did not participate, including the Cuban Liberty Council and Cuba Democracy Advocates.
There is an ongoing effort to reach out to those groups, said Alfredo Mesa, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation.
Despite the absence of the most conservative voices, the meetings often were fraught with tension.
‘‘Lucky for us there were some priests to participate as facilitators,’’ said Carlos Saladrigas, co-chair of the Cuba Study Group.
‘‘The beautiful thing about the process is that it was almost like a little group-therapy session where everyone’s points of views were aired in a healthy way,’’ Saladrigas said.
And that’s the point, Saladrigas said.
‘‘The true essence of a democracy is the ability to debate issues without fear of retribution,’’ Saladrigas said. ``I think this plan sends a clear message of hope and vision for the people of Cuba.’‘