This Friday, almost 300 activists, artists, journalists, academics and trade unionists representing diverse groups within the Cuban opposition presented a roadmap of proposals for what the civil society movement hopes to see beyond the reestablishment of US/Cuba diplomatic relations.
The statement by the Forum for Rights and Freedoms was presented on Thursday at the headquarters of Estado de SATS in Havana.
The principal objective of this initiative is to enable Cubans to be the lead players in the changes that lie ahead for Cuba, and to ensure that the new relationship with the US will bring real changes to benefit civil society on the Island.
“We find ourselves facing two options,” the document states. “One is to accept the mutation of the regime to one of authoritarian capitalism, wherein Cubans will have to resign themselves to pittances, while the heirs of the Castro regime dispose of our rights and assets. The other choice is to demand concrete and measurable changes that will lead to the formation of a true democracy.”
The proposals focus mainly on human rights and freedoms, and are based on the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They seek to establish a multi-party democracy in which citizens will be able to directly and transparently elect their leaders.
The text outlines seven principal points. It seeks, first of all, the immediate release and overturning of convictions of all political prisoners; the elimination of the concept of “pre-criminal dangerousness” from the Cuban penal code, as well as all other standards that could contribute to justifying arbitrary detentions; and the reestablishment of constitutional-level judicial guarantees that will ensure the implementation of due process in judicial procedures.
In a similar vein, the statement calls for repealing all those articles of the Constitution and laws that violate the International Covenants on Human Rights, and restrict freedoms of expression, association, trade union membership, assembly, movement and conscience.
In conclusion, the document promotes the creation of a series of greatly important laws: a new Law of Association to include a multi-party system and guarantee rights of assembly, as per the standards of the International Labour Organization; a new Communication Media law that guarantees the right of expression and flow of information; and, finally, a new Election Law that emphases a multi-party system and transparent elections.
The Forum for Rights and Freedoms submits this document as a first step towards transitioning to a true democracy, and hopes to have the support of the international community.
Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison