Received by email:
The First Steps toward Change
Without rights there is no justice, nor is there true national independence and liberty. Only with the recognition of citizens’ rights, both in law and in practice, can the people be truly sovereign and able to determine its life and its future. For over a year, we consulted with thousands of Cubans to develop the Program for All Cubans (Programa Todos Cubanos).
Through this citizen dialogue, Cubans sprung wisdom, humanism, a desire for the reconciliation and liberty of Cubans. Cubans showed their ability to build a society that is more just, more free, more prosperous—in every sense of the word—and more humane. But no matter how complete a program or agenda, it cannot replace the only legitimate option in this historic moment: to give voice to the people, and a real possibility to decide the changes that Cuba wants and needs, in a legal and democratic manner. Who is afraid that the people decide democratically?
During these times, the alternative to change cannot be continuity of a status quo that Cubans want to change and leave behind. The people’s alternative is a new life, in the way—and to the extent—that Cubans want. Only the Cuban people can express this alternative, and only if they have all the liberty and rights to do so.
A voice for the people, their opportunity and their time, and the rights of citizens is what the Varela Project referendum demands and what the Cuban Forum (Foro Cubano) campaign seeks to achieve, without foreign interference or intervention.
Cubans want a new life, and no one can prevent them from achieving this. Those who govern in our country—and those across the world who engage with Cuba—categorically must know the following:
We reject any shady deals that would deny the people of Cuba their human rights and the right to build their path toward a free, democratic, and independent country of fraternal men and women.
Consequently, those of us who work in the Citizen Committee of Reconciliation and Dialogue,
* Looking to the future with love for our country and for the children and youth of the new generation, who have the right—like the rest of us—to live their own lives in peace and liberty.
* Proclaiming that unity we need is the natural unity of all Cubans in diversity, solidarity and fraternity. Unity for freedom and in freedom, and exercising all of our human rights, we can open a new chapter for our society.
* Announcing that the Cuban Forum campaign—which has already begun—paves the path for change, reactivates the Varela Project to demand fundamental rights, and proposes the Law of National Reconciliation to proclaim that all Cubans living inside or outside of Cuba form a single people, with all rights for everyone and without exclusion.
* Confirming that our expectations for positive changes in Cuba are not placed in actions, policies or support from the European Union or its member countries, nor from the countries of North America, nor those of Latin America, nor from any region in the world, but in the determination of Cubans to achieve their rights. We remind these countries that if they truly respect self-determination for the Cuban people, in their relations with our country they must demand the release of peaceful political prisoners and respect for the human rights of Cubans.
*Confirming that the program, the project or the agenda of the people has no limits and cannot be reduced to crumbs or minimal concessions. The people’s agenda is a comprehensive liberation. For that reason only the people, in a sovereign manner and for the good of all, conserving all the good they have achieved throughout their history and changing all that needs to be changed, can and should decide to act now, as protagonists of their own history and to demand their dignity and rights.
* We call on Cubans of all ages, political affiliations and experiences—without restriction—to participate together in the Cuban Forum Campaign to achieve just and necessary changes through these First Steps:
1. The release of those jailed for defending, exercising and peacefully promoting human rights.
2. Changes in the laws to guarantee freedom of expression, press and association; the right of Cubans to live in whatever part of our country they prefer; the right of Cubans to leave and enter Cuba freely; the rights of workers; the right of Cubans to elect and be elected to public office through a new electoral law; and the end of all discrimination against Cubans in their own country.
3. After achieving an opening in participation through these changes in the law, calling for a national dialogue and free elections for a Constituent Assembly so that Cubans can truly decide democratically their present and future in an environment of peace, liberty and reconciliation on a path to fraternity.
No one should fear the possibility of Cubans having rights and the ability to manifest their peaceful and legal will because that is the value of democracy, free of exclusions and sustained by rights, solidarity and human fraternity.
When we achieve together these peaceful changes—when we overcome the hate and abuses of power, the vigilance and intrusion into the life of people, the conditions, the multiple restrictions and prohibitions, the unpronounceable inequalities, the language of hate and disqualification, and the repression and exclusions—only then will the wall of distrust and fear fall, its shadow of insecurity and constant threat will disappear, and the transparency of truth and all Cubans from all positions and experiences will reign. They will rest after decades of tiring tension. They will feel peace in their soul. They will identify themselves as brothers, and at last we will all be free.
We place our hope in God our Father, who created us free as brothers and who gave us the most beautiful land for home.
In the name of the Citizen Committee of Reconciliation and Dialogue
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Havana, April 9th, 2008
Partial List of Members of the Provincial Councils of the Committee of Reconciliation and Dialogue Now Established
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas (City of Habana)
Francisco Moya Álvarez (Villa Clara)
Minervo Lázaro Chil Siret (Cienfuegos)
Carlos Acosta Nodal (City of Habana)
Juan Felipe Medina Díaz (Cienfuegos)
Ricardo Montes Purón (City of Habana)
José Antonio De la Rosa Díaz (Havana province)
Mario Izquierdo Sotolongo
Raimundo Sánchez Morejón (Havana province)
Pablo González Villa (Cienfuegos)
Serguey Feliú Pérez (Del Río province)
Lorenzo García Rodríguez (Holguín)
Néstor Luis Estévez Milanés (Santi Spíritus)
José Alfonso Ballart Ochoa (Del Río province)
Armando Peña Guzmán (Las Tunas)
Rolando Sánchez López (Holguín)
Ezequiel Morales Carmenate (Las Tunas)
Miguel Morejón Román (Del Río province)
Guillermo Becerra Prats (Cienfuegos)
Andrés Montelongo Echavarría (Del Río province)
Josué García Suárez (Cienfuegos)
Narviel Hernández Maya (Villa Clara)
Andrés Rodríguez Tejeda (Holguín)
Bertha Arias Tardón (Granma)
Ricardo Armas Valiente (Havana province)
José Alberto Castro Aguilar (Santiago de Cuba)
Agustín Cervantes García (Santiago de Cuba)
Jaime Jacinto Madlum Fuentes (Santiago de Cuba)
Wilfredo Martínez Soto (Pinar Del Río province)
Antonia Felina Cabrera Gonzalez (Havana province)