EFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, September 6, 2022 — On Monday former president of Poland Lech Walesa urged those fighting for freedom in Cuba to adopt new tactics, claiming the methods they have been using have failed. He emphasized that the key is to organize, something he acknowledges communism does not want or allow.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner expressed confidence he would soon be able to participate in a “great march for victory against communism” in Havana but warned Cuban exiles and opponents that time is running out.
“I’m almost 80 years old, so you had better hurry,” said Walesa, who will turn 79 on the 29th of this month, to applause from those attending an event at the Brigade 2506 museum, which is named for those who participated in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow the communist government, then led by Fidel Castro.
In a crowded room adorned with posters bearing the word Solidarity, the name of the independent trade union he founded and led in communist Poland, Walesa was introduced as “the man who showed us how to overthrow communism.” Solidarity is credited with the fall of that country’s communist regime in the 1980s.
Dressed informally in a T-shirt with Polish word for “constitution” printed on it, the former president, who held office from 1990 to 1995, acknowledged that, without the help of Pope John Paul II, the fall of communism in Poland, and of the Eastern Bloc in general, would have taken longer and would probably have been more violent.
Asked what Pope Francis could do for Cuba, Walesa answered by saying that he is still a practicing Catholic and, therefore, believes that it is the Holy Spirit which guides the church.
“We have to understand the times in which we live. Once we understand them, we will find the response,” he answered. The question was in reference to criticisms by Cuban exiles that Francis had not been critical of the Cuban government. “The Holy Spirit gives us popes for each era,” he added.
Walesa reiterated his recommendation that the simplest way to conquer communism was to organize well.
He explained, however, that this is difficult due to the fear that authoritarian regimes instill in their citizens, a fear that in Poland was fed by imprisonment, torture and murder of opponents as well as the fear of nuclear attack. “Soviet nuclear missiles were pointed at Poland’s biggest cities,” he notes.
Looking back, he observed that, in 20 years trying to organize the struggle for freedom in Poland, he never managed to get more twenty people to join him and, of those, “two were undercover agents.”
The big break came with the election of Karol Wojtyla, who assumed the papacy under the name of John Paul II. “It was the pope who woke up the people and brought them to me,” he said.
He explained that Solidarity figured out how to advance the cause of liberty by taking advantage of the large crowds gathered for the first visit of John Paul II to his homeland and the religious fervor it unleashed.
He said he also received offers of support from Western Europe, the United States and the world in general as images of his meetings with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and other world leaders were projected in the room.
A journalist asked the former president if he still believes, as he said decades ago, that the U.S. has allowed the Cuban regime to endure so as to provide it with a kind of Jurassic Park.
Walesa observed that Cuba is like “a mosquito in the nose” about which the U.S. does nothing. He promised to continue working with Cuban patriots to find ways for the cause of freedom and democracy to triumph in Cuba.
When asked what concrete suggestion he might make to light the spark of rebellion in Cuba, he said that government opponents should take advantage of some large official event, or a large sporting event, and turn it into a rally for freedom.
He emphasized, “You have to study it well, to keep looking for ways.”
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.