Eliecer Avila Defends His Right To Be Politically Active / Lilianne Ruiz

Moderator Gustavo Pérez (left), Eliecer Ávila (center). Photo by Lilianne Ruiz.

HAVANA, Cuba, September 6, 2013, Lilianne Ruiz / www.cubanet.org. – Recently, the Patmos Forum held its third conference. This time the topic of discussion was The Quality of Life, in connection with politics.

The meeting was attended by about 30 people, gathered in the courtyard at the home of independent journalist Yoel Espinosa Medrano, located in the center of a Santa Clara favela (squatter settlement), a few meters from the most important political plaza of the province.

The moderator was Gustavo Pérez Silverio, the historian and researcher on racial matters, who maintains a working connection with the regime.

The special guest was Eliezer Ávila, who is slowly ceasing to be identified only as the young University of Information Science student who got into trouble with the former President of the National Assembly, and is becoming known as a political leader who could have some role in the future of the island.

Ávila began his talk by defining himself as “a Cuban citizen who wants to exercise his right to engage in politics in Cuba.”

The lack of civic culture was addressed as the key to the whole question, recognizing that in the lack of civic responsibility lies the problem of freedom for Cubans. “A citizen is a person who has power, not someone who has to sacrifice themselves for a project in which they are not involved in the decision-making process, “said Avila.

After his speech of over an hour, the floor was opened to audience questions. Librado Linares, the former political prisoner from the Cause of 75 (from the Black Spring of 2003), began by recognizing the invited guest as a man with political talent, motivation, and strength. But he said he was unable to discern in Avila’s “We Are More” movement a concrete strategy for enlisting citizens, overcome by terror and apathy, or for dealing with the pattern of repression by the political police against the Movement.

The We Are More Political Movement would bring together people of different political persuasions, united by the common interest of presenting concrete demands to the Castro government. It would not be limited to Cubans living on the island, but would also welcome Cubans from the diaspora.

“This is a project that I want to build with the views of as many people as possible, because I do not want the people to serve one point of view, but for the point of view to serve the people,” he said.

The bloggers from La Joven Cuba (Young Cuba), labeled by the regime as the “loyal opposition,” had been invited to the Patmos meeting.

Regarding the absence of La Joven Cuba bloggers, Ávila told Cubanet:

“I don’t believe that any political distance is healthy. I had hoped this dialogue would occur, but at the last minute I was told that they had no interest in participating and invited me to dialogue on their blog. It is ridiculous for one Cuban to invite another to a discussion on the Internet, knowing that we don’t have that possibility.”

The Patmos Forum, created in February 2013 by a group of activists led by Baptist pastor Mario Félix Lleonart, was conceived as a space for the discussion of various topics in which different schools of thought are represented.

Previous events were devoted to the Origin of Life and the Right to Life, consecutively.

On this occasion, Lleonart announced the adoption and adaptation by “Patmos” of the Manual of Political Advocacy of the organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, with the intention of providing workshops that equip Cuban believers with the power to influence the country’s politics, and end the myth that Christians are alienated from partisan politics that affect their quality of life and respect for human rights.

By Lilianne Ruiz, From Cubanet

Translated by Tomás A.

6 September 2013