Email received from Mr. Paya’s organization:
WHAT CUBA NEEDS:
A CIVILIZED AND FRATERNAL DIALOGUE AMONG CUBANS
Fifty years from the perspective of those who have exercised total power over the people may seem as if “it is not a lot of time,” but this time is the life of several generations of Cubans, of eleven million Cubans, among whom surely, there exist different opinions about this long experience and about General Raúl Castro’s words on July 26.
His speech begs the question: how many mistakes could have been avoided and injustices not committed, and what good would not have been prevented, if Cubans were not living choked and could express themselves freely with regards to their brethren?
The intolerance that has prevented Cubans from being able to express their opinions, critiques and proposals freely, on all aspects of life in our country as well as on the leaders and their management, has been a determinant in creating the capacity in those who govern to establish many policies, laws, campaigns, and measures that have brought about grave calamities, shortages, injustices, and suffering for the people of Cuba. During all this time the people have been, to a great extent, barred from the exercise of free speech and many of the legal recourses that would guarantee their rights.
They have also been deprived of respect by the authorities of many human rights and other rights that are recognized by the law. The denial of their rights has impeded Cubans from influencing and deciding freely, responsibly, and democratically the course of events in their Homeland.
The deprivation and denial of rights are not only on the subject of freedom of expression, but in all aspects of life, to such an extent that the daily struggle for survival, which Cuban would like to carry out through honest work, turns into an exasperating anxiety and into a cause of merciless pursuit by the state apparatus of vigilance and repression. The people know that while the majority of the poor are subject to this life of restrictions, there are sectors of society that because of their position of power, enjoy enormous privileges in all areas.
During these decades, Cubans have experienced a repression of free expression in their role as citizens and workers and even in the most intimate environments of the individual and the family. This regime has punished, excluded, and in many cases imprisoned many people, only for thinking differently and being capable of expressing what they think, for demonstrating their critiques and their inconformity and for denouncing the injustices and proposing changes.
If freedom of expression is granted with the condition of inconditionality for those who govern in the name of the Revolution and for an order which lacks many rights, then it is no longer freedom.
The practice and doctrine of calling counterrevolutionaries those who for our love of the Homeland and defense of the sovereignty of its people criticize the policies of those who govern and propose changes, has been and continues to be a threat against those who dream of freedom and against the rights of all Cubans.
The release of Cubans who are imprisoned for peacefully exercising, defending and promoting human rights must be immediate and unconditional.
As Cubans we do not accept that another country or group of countries impose its rules on the lives of our people, neither with unjust pressure nor economic isolation, be they embargos, sanctions or other types of measures. We support civilized dialogue between Cuba and any other country with the condition of respect for the dignity and self-determination of every nation.
Neither this administration of the United States, nor the next, has nor will have the power to define the lives and future of Cuba, which is why as Cubans, we should not and do not want to put our expectations on the results of the elections in the United States or any other country.
But the serious issue is that Cubans can also not have expectations and hopes in the elections of their own country either, because they can not truly elect freely and democratically, or make decisions on changes that Cuba wants and needs. A new electoral Law that allows for Cubans to truly elect their government and its parliament and for legal guarantees of freedom of expression and association is essential so that the people can truly exercise their sovereignty and open for themselves the new horizons for this new stage in our history of reconciliation, peace, freedom and brotherhood.
In this spirit the Cuban Forum Campaign has opened, which will continue to push the Varela Project further and push forward a civilized dialogue among Cubans. Civilized dialogue among Cubans is an urgent necessity and a just and necessary process for the people of Cuba, therefore it should not be conditional on the relationship with any other country.
A dialogue that is not only civilized, but fraternal, among Cubans as free men and women, in search of reconciliation and to design the future of Cuba, because all Cubans are brothers and this beautiful island, our Homeland, is the home in which we can all live in peace, with dignity and freedom.
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas Minervo Lázaro Chil Siret
Havana, July 26, 2007
International Representative, Christian Liberation Movement