Letter to Pope Francis from the Christian Liberation Movement Youth

“But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than ten years ago more than 25,000 Cubans supported a legal reform project. Called the Varela Project, it called for a plebiscite to ask the people, yes or no, did they want free elections. The Cuban Constitution establishes that if more than 10,000 people support a legal proposal than the government is constitutionally required to respond.” Rosa Maria Paya. Poster by Rolando Pulido.

Havana, May 5th 2014

“Fear is ridiculous and it provides ammunition to the enemies of liberty.”- The Venerable Father Felix Varela

Your Holiness, Pope Francis:

We would like to thank you with utmost respect and kindness for taking time to read this letter.

We are Cuban Catholic youth who everyday are intent to fortify ourselves to the clamors that burst forth and splatter our conscience from the brutal reality of our beloved Cuba. From the dawn of our youth we have occupied the rows of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), a pacifist-civic movement which, inspired  by Christian humanism and the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, has yearned for the freedom that Cuba has wanted and needed for more than 25 years.

We love the church, and we have grown under her auspices with the influence of her Ignatian spirituality. Because of this, we turn to you to voice our pain and concern with several Cuban Bishops who, surrounded by pro-government Cuban laity and other figures of privilege, pronounce and act in the name of the Church before the unfolding drama that we Cubans have lived in for more than half a century.

Increasingly, ecclesial offices are shunted into a caricature of the masses, to be only the bottom substrate in the background and a common denominator legitimizing the government, asking for more votes of confidence for the politico-military junta who govern as dictators and awaiting a new “leader” to succeed the dynasty of the Castro Brothers and amend the “justified errors” of 55 years of governmental mismanagement that devastated a country whilst omitting the daily violations of human rights and the repressive despotic and unpunished actions of State Security personnel against nonviolent opposition and begging for weak reforms which lack transparency and in so doing be able to navigate comfortably in all waters through the use of ambiguous and confusing language that decorate and embellish the harsh realities, foregoing calling them by name, and thus presenting themselves as authentic rhetoricians and builders of bridges. Continue reading

“We want to contribute to personal and community reflection of pastoral agents” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Erick Alvarez

Erick Alvarez

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 August 2014 – To mark the publication of a letter sent by five young Cubans to Pope Francisco, 14ymedio interviewed Erick Álvarez Gil, coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in Havana. At just 28, this young man joined the organization in 2009, and holds a degree in Electronics and Telecommunications.

Question: What are the antecedents of this document?

Answer: This letter was sent on the second anniversary of the death of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, and also two years from the time Oswaldo handed a letter to the Cuban bishops in 2012, which reflected some of these concerns and also touched on the issues of relations between Church and State, and Church and Society. These ideas are still dormant and still a source of concern to us, so we went back to the idea of a letter and put it in the hands of the Pope and also sent it to the Cuban bishops, priests, religious, missionaries, and the most committed laypeople in the Cuban Church.

Q: As I understand it the letter is dated May 5 and was delivered to Pope Francisco on the 14th of that month, but only now has been disclosed to the public. Why the wait time between sending the letter and publication?

A: We didn’t send the letter to any media, the aim was not that the letter would be published openly. Our objective was to send it to the main actors of the Church in Cuba and the more committed lay people. We did that late last week and, as happens in these cases, it is already public. Continue reading

Christian Liberation Movement: 25 years on the Path of the People

25-años-207x300… We must announce to Cubans that their lives, their dignity and their freedom belong to them and that no one, not Caesar, can take these things from them if they don’t give in because of fear or other reasons.

Oswaldo Paya Sardinas

Inspired by these ideas, our Christian Liberation Movement was founded 25 years ago. Born to defend the rights of all Cubans and to promote the full liberation of the person leading to the development of society.

We want to serve, we are convinced that in Cuba the changes that the people want will only occur if the majority of Cubans, freeing themselves from the culture of fear, take a liberating step to reclaim their lives. The law should guarantee the right to do away with the simulation generated by an oppressive system, like the totalitarian regime that prevails in our country. We are part of the same people, those who live inside and outside the archipelago;we are not trying to speak for a people, we are working for citizens to have a voice.

Liberation demands its right and the right of Cubans to know the truth; an independent investigation is required to make public the circumstances under which died our leaders Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero died, after an attack on 22 July 2012.

The dialogue that we are proposing is inclusive, where we are all represented, and in an atmosphere of trust that only respect for the law and the practice of fundamental rights can guarantee. We condemn the “Fraud Change” and the false dialogue that excludes and discriminates against those who do not submit, tools that the regime seeks to impose to preserve absolute power and control of the resources belonging to all Cubans. We demand transparency for Cuba and call on Cubans one and all to claim and build this path of changes.

Liberation with the opposition diverse and united in the Camino del Pueblo (the Way of the People), promotes a plebiscite for the sovereign people to decide the changes. Only when citizens can choose their government in free and multiparty elections, can we talk about Cuba having inexorably begun real democratic changes. So today we demand, within the history of thousands of Cubans who propose legal initiatives through a referendum, a referendum to restore the sovereignty of the people

All Cubans, all brothers, and now freedom.

Coordinating Council, Christian Liberation Movement

September 8, 2013

Declaration from the Christian Liberation Movement Regarding the European Union’s Common Position / Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo #Cuba #MCL

The reasons behind the position held by the European Union (EU) concerning human rights in Cuba have not changed in the last 16 years. The Cuban Government has not recognized the fundamental rights of Cubans. With the imminent and necessary revision of the current Common Position and the possibility of future pacts with the Cuban governments, the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) has a duty to remind the EU that the Cuban people will not have the opportunity to participate and freely interact with EU states until Cuban authorities decide to make real internal changes to promote an open society.

The cooperation of the European Union with the Cuban government, without signs of a democratization process in the island, encourages and helps sustain a system that denies freedom and opportunity to its own citizens. Oswaldo Payá denounced this nine years ago with the following words: “The denial of hope.”

Change in Cuba is unavoidable and urgent, but it has not taken place. The response of the Cuban democracy movement to the attempt of fraudulent change” that the regime seeks in order to stay in power and oppress the people can be found in “The People’s Path,” which has been signed by over 70 organizations and 1,200 leaders, activists and citizens inside and outside the island.

This document contains basic claims that members of the opposition articulate through various strategies and styles. The MCL draws attention once again to the danger that lurks, disguised as legal reforms carried out by the Government; none of the which are democratic because they do not guarantee human rights to the people.

To establish a dialogue with a single part of our society, those who silence and oppress the majority of Cubans, is to participate in the exclusions to which the Cuban oligarchy subjects the people. The MCL does not support the isolation of Cuba, nor an external embargo, but it is also important to denounce the isolation that the people are subjected to by the Regime. We understand that the interests of organizations, businesses and citizens of the European Community need to be defended, but we hope that we can fight in parallel for equal rights for Cubans.

Our civil society, which is part of the people, has flourished in a range of initiatives and trends whose primary objective is attaining respect for human rights. More than 25,000 Cubans have legally joined a plebiscite that demands fundamental rights for citizens. We continue demanding and awaiting the government’s response, in the same way that we expect the international community to demand that the Cuban authorities complies with their own laws.

More than 17,000 people inside and outside the island have expressed their concerns, proposals and dreams by joining a National Dialogue to which all were invited. The result of this fraternal dialogue is the Transitional Program, which is not set in stone, but which is a concrete platform to build on in an orderly and peaceful fashion to bring democracy to our country.

The lack of freedom of association, expression, choice and mobility blocks any real and effective participation of the people in the construction of their present and future.

Free elections should be conducted, they must include every political current in our nation. That is the message that Cubans expect the democracies of the world to send to those who are trying to perpetuate the Dictatorship in Cuba. We cannot speak of real change because we Cubans still cannot freely enter and leave the island, we cannot decide what kind of education to give our children, we do not have sovereignty of our private property, many of us are imprisoned for expressing our ideas or proposing our social and political projects; real change will come with our human rights.

The repression and aggressiveness with which the Cuban Government, through the organs of State Security, oppresses those who peacefully oppose, have intensified in recent times. This fact has been sadly demonstrated in the violent – and still unexplained – car crash, which took the life of our general coordinator Oswaldo Payá Sardinas, who was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2002, and one of our younger leaders, Harold Cepero Escalante. There has been a complete lack of information about what occurred.

Other examples are the many and frequent death threats that were made to Oswaldo Payá by the political police, the current intimidation of his family and the abuses that members of our movement are subjected to, as well as the constant beatings and arbitrary arrests of many other members of the Cuban democracy movement.

Those who participate and work on the Path of the People and the legal democratic initiatives that we promote, suffer constant harassment. In addition, many independent journalists, bloggers, dissidents and democracy activists across the Island are also harassed and mistreated daily.

We urge the international community, the European Union and its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Catherine Ashton, to work in solidarity with us, to be consistent and coherent with the democratic traditions of their own nations, and to demand a respectful, honest and direct dialogue to promote the interests of all Cubans.

This is only possible if the law and practice guarantee fundamental freedoms, which are not respected today. We hope the European Union will join the Cuban democracy movement in support of the demands expressed in The Path of the People, in our demand for transparency for Cuba, and in the beginning of the real changes that our people want and need.

ALL CUBANS, ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS, AND NOW OUR FREEDOM!

Christian Liberation Movement
Havana, November 20, 2012