Declaration from Cuba’s Independent Civil Society in Advance of Obama’s Visit to the Island

Declaration from Cuba’s Independent Civil Society
19 March 2018

The March 20 to 22 visit [to Cuba] of Mr. Barack Obama, president of the United States, in the company of his wife, Mrs. Michelle Obama, closes a cycle of political boldness and has led to and signifies a new era in the Americas.

This historic turning point with Cuba began 17 December 2014 and was greeted and supported by the majority of its citizens, while it generated a logical environment of controversies outside and inside the more than 45 independent activist organizations that were working in the Democratic Action Unity Roundtable (MUAD), among which are those leading the Citizen Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018) and the Civil Society Open Forum, along with other civil and political actors inside and outside of Cuba.

Those of us who are promoting this Declaration are not unaware of the dimension of this geostrategic change, and its double impact on our country and on the hemisphere.

The controversial logic of this process expresses the play of opportunities and challenges opening for all Cubans, and for those in the international community who want to help this geostrategic change effectively contribute to democratic change in Cuba.

We believe that the visit of the president of the United States is another step forward in the full normalization of relations with our country. And in this sense, it fosters a better atmosphere to advance our efforts to achieve the democratization of Cuban society and its political system, and the maturation of a project for an inclusive and pluralistic country.

And it is also an opportunity for the Cuban political class to understand that there is there is no longer any room for the philosophy of the “besieged fortress,” which classifies every dissident as a traitor, nor for the maintenance of a politically exclusive, discriminatory and authoritarian regime. The country should be “with all and for the good of all.”

This new atmosphere should support, progressively, debate among Cubans and a radical change in the behavior of the authorities around six basic themes:

  1. The recognition of the need for a social and democratic state of law, and progress towards the enjoyment of economic, civil and political liberties for all Cubans.
  1. The immediate ratification by the National Assembly, after the signing by the Cuban government in 2008, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the creation of a national system that upholds their postulates.
  1. The cessation of repression and the use of physical violence against all political and human rights activists who use legitimate and non-violent civic action to express their demands.
  1. The release of all prisoners unjustly incarcerated, especially political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and those subjected to conditions of parole.
  1. The repeal of Law 88, the Gag Law, designed to punish Cuban citizens for alleged cooperation with the country that is normalizing, unilaterally and constructively, its relations with the Cuban government and society.
  1. The establishment of an expeditious and transparent timetable for the return of all the rights of citizenship to Cuban emigrants.

We hope, moreover, that the conversation President Barack Obama will hold with representatives of Cuban civil society will not only strengthen the legitimation of pro-democracy activists on the island, but will encourage other international interlocutors to dialog and publicly recognize the plurality of political and civil actors in Cuba.

As the evolution of world affairs demonstrates, countries’ prosperity, stability and sustainability is increasingly dependent on a comprehensive approach in which economic progress can not and should not be disassociated from progress in freedoms and social justice.

With the coming of Mr. Barack Obama to Cuba one part of the call made by Pope John Paul II in 1988 will be fulfilled: let the world open itself to Cuba. Another good starting point for the Cuban government to definitively open itself to all its citizens.


The first group of signatories to this declaration can be seen here, in the Spanish language version.

Related post: An Agenda For Discussion