Dissident leaders carry a united message to the Americas Summit in Panama

Manuel Cuesta Morúa durante la conferencia de prensa de este viernes (EFE/Alejandro Ernesto)
Manuel Cuesta Morua during the press conference this Friday (EFE / Alejandro Ernesto)

Several leaders of the Cuban opposition and independent civil society made public Friday a document title “A United Message to the Seventh Summit of the Americas” under the slogan “Yo soy Cuba” (I am Cuba). In the text they point out that the “ the full insertion of the Cuban government in the inter-American system is incompatible with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

The document is signed by Felix Navarro, Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy; Manuel Cuesta Morua, Progressive Arc; Guillermo Fariñas, United Antitotalitarian Front; Iván Hernández Carrillo, Trade Unionist; José Daniel Ferrer, the Patriotic Union of Cuba; Carmelo Bermúdez Rosabal, Progressive Arc; Juan Antonio Madrazo, Committee for Racial Integration, and groups such as Citizens for Democracy, Municipalities in Opposition, among others.

The signers enumerated at least seven points that demonstrate the undemocratic nature of the Cuban government. Among them are the repression, the existence and political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, the harassment of entrepreneurs, the unwillingness to ratify the United Nations Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the existence of a single-party regime that does not allow the alternation of power, the inability of citizen to choose among different political alternatives, and the prohibition of multi-party representative democracy.

Their purpose is that the Summit of Americas, on April 10-11, is an “opportunity” to recognize “the legitimacy of the independent Cuban civil society within the island and in the diaspora as a valid interlocutor of the Cuban people,” opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, leader of the Cuban Progressive Arc Party said today.

Cuesta Morúa explained that the Ladies in White are not currently included because the project promoters have not been able to talk to the leader of the women’s group, Berta Soler, because she is outside the country, although they have not ruled out that she will join with them in Panama, during the summit.

In any case, there are more than dozen organizations behind this project representing what they call “independent civil society” within Cuba and in exile, groups that “cover the entire political spectrum,” said Cuesta Morúa.

He will be one of those charged with carrying this united proposal to the social forums of the Summit of the Americas, a meeting the Cuban government will attend for the first time and that will be the site of the expected meeting between the presidents of Cuba, Raul Castro, and of the United States, Barack Obama, the first after their diplomatic thaw.

Besides Cuesta Morua and Fariñas, other dissidents who will attend in Panama include Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White; Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN); and representatives of UNPACU, although not its leader José Daniel Ferrer.

Ferrer, who is not allowed to leave the island because he was one of the political prisoners of the “Group of 75” released on parole in 2010, is one of the charged with organizing a social forum parallel to the summit in Panama within the island.

On April 10 two civil society forums will be held in Cuba, one in Santiago de Cuba and another in Havana, to present the “united message” within the island as well, and to gather people’s proposals with regards to what to work on going forward.

“It will be about a coming together of those of us who feel ourselves to be members of the democratic open space to share views about the need for changes in human rights, freedoms and the election system, given that Cuba is not the only country on the continent with a single party,” Ferrer explained to EFE.

In the joint statement, these groups demand that Cuba’s participation in the summit for the first time serve the ends of the final insertion of the island into the inter-American system following the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

In this sense, they denounce the repression of those exercising the rights of expression, assembly and association in Cuba; the existence of political prisoners; the prohibition of a representative and multiparty democracy; the refusal to consult the people about their future; and the unwillingness to ratify the UN Covenants on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The social forums to be held in parallel with the summit in Panama, will also be attended by more than one hundred representatives of Cuban civil society and government organizations on the island.

The text prepared by these activists expresses different views and the “rich diversity, in the Agreement for Democracy, in the Points of Cuban Consensus, in the proposals of the Forum for Rights and Freedoms, and the Open Space Four Points of Consensus.”

The document also reflects the willingness of “most of our alternatives” to “working together, in order to return Cuba as a free and sovereign nation to a hemispheric environment where democracy and institutional respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms prevail.”

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