NEW DAY FOR THE VARELA PROJECT, THE DEFINITIVE CAMPAIGN FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE IN CUBA
After almost five decades under an order of “no rights,” now, as the Cuban people approach the door of their future with uncertainty, the response of the group in power is to slam the door in their faces. Various factors are combining against the Cuban people:
- the propaganda that saturates life and tries to strangle understanding;
- the growing repression in all aspects of life, persecuting those who struggle peacefully and openly for their rights, even the mother and father of a family trying to find their daily bread;
- the poverty that has built up, without solutions, and that is suffered by the majority, resulting in permanent anxiety and in people spending most of their energy and time trying just to survive;
- the blindness shown by the totalitarian leadership, with their repeated and amplified official discourse that reaffirms the continuity of their total power as the only plan and denies to families, individual Cubans, and the people the right to dream of their own legitimate plans and denies them any possibility of realizing those plans;
- the new and painful scene of supposed changes that have taken place in Cuba, and, on a greater scale, outside of Cuba that projects, without any foundation, an image of change that generate expectations, debates, and conjectures about models of or steps toward changes in Cuba—without counting on Cubans themselves—and that justify and celebrate, according to their interests, the maneuvers that are attempted substitutes for real democratic changes.
Taking part in this scene are not a few governments, institutions, media outlets, and intellectual, artistic, political and religious figures. They are speaking for Cubans instead of demanding a voice for Cubans.
The above mentioned resources and factors are principal components of the environment in which they try to keep Cubans trapped in fear, breaking their will and stripping them of all hope.
However, Cubans do want changes, do want a new life, and know that this is possible. This is a hope, in itself, but it is not enough. There is no doubt that the majority feels an overall dissatisfaction, but many do not believe that a path exists and do not expect anything anymore, even though they may want changes.
But some know that there is a path, and that it is the path in which Cubans ourselves are the protagonists. This is the path of demanding rights. We have already been walking down this path for some time, but today we announce it again with more determination than ever. This path is the Varela Project. Now it is clear that, as long as Cubans do not have guaranteed rights, they will not have anything, nor can they hope for a life more dignified and free. It is also clear that we can do what depends on us, and that nobody can prevent this. When the majority of citizens have decided to break peacefully—but decidedly—through the barriers of fear, as the first signatories of the Varela Project did, we will achieve the changes that we want.
Many people say to us: now is when a solution like the Varela Project is needed.
We have reinitiated the collection of signatures for the referendum of the Varela Project because we know that the demand for a referendum will have to be done by us Cubans and because many were asking:
What can we do, and how?
The Varela Project is not an intellectual exercise, or an online activity; it is a concrete and visible action by citizens making a sustainable demand.
We cannot stop denouncing that while many activists collect signatures, Cuba ’s repressive apparatus is unleashing direct and very aggressive repression, with its many resources and traps. And that while this happens, many in the media who cover Cuba or who come to Cuba , through diverse means, silence this campaign. Why? We will not wear ourselves out with controversies; we only remind them that the “Varela Project is the path that many Cubans want to take to attain the rights of all Cubans and because of that, as much as they attack us in a barrage of oppression, we are not going to abandon this campaign, which is the path of liberation.”
The Varela Project is a legal, peaceful and democratic instrument to initiate changes, giving the keys to these changes to the citizens through a referendum that indisputably demonstrates the will of the people. It responds to the great question that seemed not to have a response:
How to change? What can and what must we do to achieve it?
The Varela Project breaks the vicious and distracting cycles of speculation and paralysis by opening a viable and transparent path. The Varela Project takes this first step that seemed impossible and that is treated like a missing link on our path of freedom. There is no missing link. Let us forge more bonds because now we know that there is a path: that Cubans themselves demand their rights!
We know why the Cuban government, its repressive apparatus, its diplomats, the apparatus of lies and fear that they have created, and their allies attack the Varela Project: Because the rights that we demand in this campaign are incompatible with the continuation of their totalitarian power and enormous privileges. But fundamentally, they desperately attack and suppress the Varela Project because it is a reality that is already a liberating act for thousands of people. This seemed impossible within the culture of fear, and without the fear of the people, communism of any form is not possible.
But what about the rest of the attackers and active repressors? Those that have the media, resources and influence and use them—sometimes to attack us, other times to silence us, even to the point of boycotting us? Sometimes they do it openly, but other times they abuse their media resources, disguised as democratic and pluralistic. Why do they do it? We will not explain it ourselves. The fact is that they are attacking the decision of thousands of Cubans to achieve rights for all. We are not competing for position, for personal benefits, for power nor glory, but fighting for freedom.
Cuban Forum (Foro Cubano) is a civic campaign for this moment, updated through changes, that offers a path for the people to design their national plan. The first steps are clearly laid out in the Cuban Forum campaign:
1. The liberation of those who are imprisoned for defending, exercising and peacefully promoting human rights.
2. Changes in the law to guarantee the freedom of expression, press and association, the right of Cubans to settle themselves in whatever part of our country they prefer to live in, the right of Cubans to leave Cuba and enter freely, the right of all Cubans to have private businesses and enterprise in our country, all the rights of workers, the right of Cubans to elect and be elected to public office through a new electoral law, and an end to all discrimination against Cubans in their own country.
3. Having opened spaces for participation through these legal changes, call for a national dialogue and free elections for a Constituent Assembly so that Cubans can truly decide, democratically and exercising their sovereignty, their present and future in an environment of peace, freedom and reconciliation on the path to fraternity.
Nobody should fear Cubans having rights and being able to express their will peacefully and legally because this is the benefit of democracy, when no one is excluded and it is supported by rights, solidarity and humanity.
The Varela Project is the path for taking the first steps that:
- Will not permit Cuba to be cut up like a cake;
- Will not lead to quick privatizations that the people cannot control because it gives sovereign control of national life to citizens by prioritizing the institutionalization of rights as the first phase of change; and
- Will defend and consolidate national independence on the basis of the real exercise of popular sovereignty. It guarantees all opportunities for the people to express themselves in self-determination, because only citizens who are free and exercise their rights truly have the capacity of self-determination.
Everyone knows that the repressive violence of March 2003 in Cuba was carried out to try to neutralize the growing support for the Varela Project. Although some of our imprisoned brothers were not leaders of the Varela Project, the majority were. In that demand that we delivered for the first time in May 2002, we had already sought the liberation of those who were political prisoners at that time. It should not be forgotten that there have always been political prisoners in Cuba , and that the Varela Project is not the first and only campaign in which thousands of citizens demand the liberation of political prisoners. This is the present. It is not a memory.
We are carrying out this campaign now because Cubans are still not guaranteed their rights, that is to say there have not been any changes, and because there are still many political prisoners, among them the majority of the “Cuban Spring” prisoners.
Those who are suffering cruel and inhumane imprisonment sustain the torch of hope because they have not surrendered. How are we to forget the cause that we defend together with them: the cause of freedom and the rights of Cubans?
We have already begun this definitive campaign for changes within Cuba and now:
- We call on all Cubans that live in Cuba to participate in the demand for rights by signing the Varela Project and supporting its demands; and
- We call on all Cubans that live outside Cuba and all of the friends of our people to support and participate in the campaign for the Varela Project and to disseminate it throughout the world.
We will maintain these demands and the campaign for the Varela Project until all the political prisoners are freed and until all Cubans enjoy their human rights.
ALL CUBANS, ALL BROTHERS AND NOW FREEDOM!
Julio Hernández, Francisco De Armas
Movimiento Cristiano Liberación