To Costa Rica, that Latin American country recognized for its outstanding economic push, its democratic stability, and its role in the defense of human rights, a group of young Cubans and Venezuelans has come as guests of the National Liberation Party.
Undoubtedly among the Costa Rican politicians most prominent in recent years, Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez stands out. He held the presidency for two terms, the first from 1986 to 1990, and the second started in 2006 and ended in 2010. Thus, a meeting with him was something not to be missed on the visit’s agenda.
The Arias administrations brought Costa Rica notable advances in different sectors. So much so, that for the most part his compatriots usually refer to him as the “best president” they ever had.
The successful mediation of several international conflicts, among them that of Nicaragua in the 1980s, also turned him into a global paradigm in defense of peace, for which he was honored with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.
On Saturday, the long awaited meeting with Arias took place at his home where he received a group of young Cubans and Venezuelans. The dialogue lasted more than an hour, during which the former president listened attentively to their plans later shared his vision of the political landscape of the two nations. Also discussed was the current situation, and the challenges facing those working for democracy in both countries.
Arias criticized governments for generally “remaining silent” about what happens in Cuba and Venezuela “for fear of upsetting their respective Lefts.”
Addressing the Venezuelans, he asked them about the status of unity of the democratic forces and the personalities engaged in the struggle. José Javier Martínez, member of the Vente Venezuela movement, responded that, “Although there are some differences between the main opposition leaders, they disappear on the issue of respect for human rights.”
“It is on this point, above all, and in its defense that we are firmly united,” Martinez reaffirmed. The young man also took advantage of the occasion, to ask the former president for support for a motion that several MPs from different parties are trying to push through the Costa Rican legislature. The objective of the motion is to have the ambassador of this nation propose to the Organization of American States (OAS) that it discuss the situation of Venezuela in its main plenary session.
Arias also asked about the course of relations with the United States and what might be expected in this respect. Kirenia Yalit, Coordinator of the Roundtable of Cuban Youth, explained the different visions and postures of Cuban civil society toward this process and pointed out that, “We young people are not opposed to the opportunities that this these changes could bring to the benefit the people, but we will continue in our struggle to achieve the rights that we need to exercise, whether or not there is trade with the United States.”
Arias then speculated about the possibility of a Cuban Deng Xiaoping, who would reform the Cuban system from within the Communist Party, as happened in China.
To this Eliecer Avila, leader of Somos+ (We Are More) and a member of the Roundtable, responded that, “There is always that possibility, but we Cuban democrats do not see in China an applicable or desirable framework for our country.” The young man emphasized that, “We are able to build a much better model, one that in addition to economic growth also ensures the full exercise of civil and political freedoms, the only guarantees for a national reconciliation and lasting stability.”
The former President thanked the young people for the visit and reiterated his commitment to the democratic cause of both peoples. Which, he said, “Would always be addressed in my upcoming conferences, because I say what I think and do not speak just to get along with anyone.”