Oswaldo Paya, who died Sunday in a traffic crash, was always an eloquent advocate for Cuban freedom and the human rights of all Cubans. Here is his message to the 2009 Summit of the Americas:
MESSAGE TO THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS FROM THE CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT
FOR THE NEW WORLD, A NEW HOPE
We are not going to say “we are the voice of Cuba ,” but instead “give the people what is of the people, their own voice and their freedom”. That is the spirit of the 2009 Dialogue in which many Cubans, peaceful fighters for democracy, are currently participating and whose results will be proclaimed shortly.
There is no secret: We, Cubans, want peace, reconciliation among all of us, and friendship with all peoples. We want to build a more fair and humane society; we want rights, all the rights; and we want freedom.
No honest man should talk about Cuba or for Cuba before demanding respect for Cubans’ rights and the release of those cruelly imprisoned in our country for defending human rights peacefully.
The Cuban political prisoners must be released unconditionally and immediately because they are in prison just for writing and disseminating their views, for denouncing human rights violations and for promoting a Referendum on the Varela Project to initiate peaceful change toward democracy.
We have never asked for, nor do we want, the isolation and exclusion of our country, but most governments in Latin America and the Caribbean exclude the Cuban people. They have opted for a relationship with the Cuban government based on complacency and silence about the gross violation of civil and political rights in Cuba . The proclaimed integration will only be true if it is conducted among free peoples. And it will be false and without a future unless it is a result of the exercise of freedom and the rights of citizens of this continent. It is not true that there is respect for self determination of the Cuban people, considering that everybody knows and ignores the reality that the Cuban people can not determine, choose or express themselves freely, because these and other rights are refused to its citizens.
These governments use, for their political interests, a false image of Cuban reality that has been distorted and replaced by a mask imposed by the culture of fear in our society. Cubans who work in other countries dedicated to doing good in good faith get benefited, but also feel humiliated because they know that they are not free in Cuba , nor in the countries where they serve.
Across the continent, people clap and enjoy the efforts of our players, without doubt the best in the world, and of other athletes. But viewers do not want to recognize that these athletes are like gladiators, glorified in the sands of the stadium, but watched inside cages and then returned to their own cages because they are heroes, but not free ones.
We want the world to start opening to Cuba , starting with all peoples and governments of America , and we hope that Cuba can truly open to everyone. Some neighbors of this continent and citizens in other countries have in Cuba a country open to them, but knowing that Cuba is closed for the Cubans themselves, remain in an undignified silence. Meanwhile they enjoy our nation as tourists and businessmen at the expense of the disadvantaged citizenry without liberty.
Moreover, artists, intellectuals and politicians, with both good and sinister intentions, use our country as a stage to rave about hatred and the utopia of totalitarianism, while presenting themselves as defenders of the poor. Nevertheless, we are not deceived because, as the apostle of Cuban independence Jose Martí said in one of his letters, “Music is playing, the chorus is echoing, but these are not for peace”.
We never asked for nor wanted an embargo against Cuba —an embargo that should not exist. We do not want a plan for Cuba that is not developed by Cubans themselves once they have rights and freedom. Making changes is a responsibility solely of Cubans without the intervention or interference of the North, South, East or West. No one should use our country as the stage for their confrontations because we, Cubans, do not want or need them to assert our sovereignty and national independence.
One cannot justify the embargo imposed by the United States of America on Cuba with the lack of rights that exist in our country because the embargo constitutes another violation of Cubans’ rights and so it must be lifted immediately and unconditionally.
Those who justify the lack of rights in Cuba with the existence of such embargo, or who silence the lack of civil, political and economic rights, do not have the best interests of our people at heart, nor do they respect our interests. We have had enough of justifications and the “relativitization” of the rights of the Cuban people. Cubans are entitled to rights because we are human beings. At this summit and in the dialogue that should start—not end—now, Cuban should not be excluded, although Cuba is not only the government. Hence, the call and demand for the opening of rights of Cubans and the release of defenders of human rights should not be left unanswered.
We propose a New Dialogue for the New World . The Summit of the Americas should be the start of this new dialogue that would be a new hope for the New World . This is to be a dialogue without frontiers, not only with respect but with goodwill among all that is a transparent dialogue in which all strive to understand the other’s language. A dialogue that proposes to go beyond peaceful coexistence and good relations between states, searching and channeling what our people want – friendship based on brotherhood and freedom. Today, this is possible and urgent because only in that spirit we will save the earth from an environmental disaster that has been announced with alarming signs.
There will be no crisis, injustice, conflict, or difficulty that the New World cannot overcome if all the governments and peoples take the path of dialogue, solidarity and cooperation as a way to build together with all mankind a new stage of the history – the globalization of the fraternity.
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Coordinator, Christian Liberation Movement
Havana , April 17, 2009