The Cuban Civil Society Open Forum, a new organization in Cuba which has come to be a space of debate for the opposition, met this Monday in Havana to review its own development as well as its common position, faced with the new scenario that has opened with the reestablishment of relations with the United States.
The group, in the form of a final statement, made a call “to strengthen the unity in diversity achieved so far, whatever our opinions may be on this issue, and to maintain equanimity and respect.”
The meeting, with the participation of thirty activists of different points of view, focuses on developing an ethical approach to running the activities of Civil Society Open Space. This framework, developed starting from the proposals collected in a previous draft, will be set out in a documents whose final version will be voted on at the next meeting, scheduled for the end of February 2015, according to a statement released by the group.
Another of the important points of the meeting was the future creation of a mediation group, which will work to solve conflicts internal to civil society.
With regards to the announcement of the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States coming out of secret negotiations, the Cuban Civil Society Open Forum expressed its pleasure in “the dozens of compatriots who will be released from prison and also the release of Alan Gross.” In addition, they noted that the agreement between Raul Castro and Obama puts an end “to the pretext and official narrative of a besieged people,” which will allow, according to the participants, focus “on democratic change in Cuba.”
Guillermo Fariñas criticized, in his speech, the “secrecy of the negotiations, which were held behind the backs not only of civil society but also the ruling party, parliament and the bulk of the institutions.” For his part, José Daniel Ferrer said that, “most important is the faith and hope that from now on we must convey to the people.” The activist also stressed the “importance of building new scenarios for democracy.”
Manuel Cuesta Morua agreed that the restoration of relations with the US represents “the end of the ‘epic’ stage and the beginning of the political stage for civil society.” Elizardo Sanchez confirmed that even the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation “ does not know the list of prisoners to be released, which represents about half of those imprisoned for political reasons in Cuba.”
The Cuban Civil Society Open Forum meets to discuss issues of Cuban society. Last February, the group signed, for the first time, four points of consensus that summarize the demands of Cuban civil society; these were reviewed at the meeting on Monday and ratified unanimously in what was one of the first steps of opposition unity on the island.