14ymedio, Havana, 31 August 2022 — Famed singer Pablo Milanés announced in a Facebook post on Monday that he had signed the Cuban Civil Society Manifesto, a document drafted by a group of Cubans, some living on the island and others overseas, which calls for change in the country.
He added a dedication “to all those who fight for freedom, and for social and economic change in Cuba.”
He goes on to note, “As I have indicated in my most recent public statements, its proposals meet the requirements of what could serve as a non-partisan effort, one without regard to trends, to old and new disagreements, which would only lead to disunity and inconsistency in any future achievements, which can only be achieved through the unity of all Cubans.”
He encourages others to read the text “in depth” to appreciate “the essential idea” of what the country needs: “new voices and new ways of thinking, which demand new laws, new freedoms, new active participation within the current society, which would lead us to a dialogue of peace and an achievable future given the dire conditions in which people find themselves, with no apparent way out.”
He reiterates his support for “this and any other manifesto that might encourage change in a spirit of sovereignty, inclusion and respect for human beings, their dignity and most basic aspirations,” no matter from where they might arise, “without prejudice and without political-ideological conditioning of any kind, to achieve what we all seek through different paths.”
The manifesto, which was released last week, calls for “profound and urgent change to wrench the country out of an unprecedented crisis and avoid confrontation.” It adds, “The state has meaning only when it represents the interests of all the citizenry, for which a consensus of Cuban civil society has a superior moral force.”
It places blame for the country’s “alarming situation” on “business centralization by the state, a source of inefficiency and corruption by bureaucratic classes, which have been dragging the population into a disastrous situation for more than two decades.” It also blames “systematic coercion of essential rights such as free oral and written expression as well as artistic creativity, the right to free, peaceful association, to free movement — in particular, the right to be able to leave one’s own country and return to it — and to citizens’ free, independent economic entrepreneurship.”
The manifesto can be signed by emailing email@example.com. It is open to those “currently living inside or outside of Cuba since the Cuban nation extends beyond the Cuban archipelago to any part of the world where there are Cubans who identify with the collective aspirations of their compatriots.”
So far more than a one hundred eighty* people have signed it. Among the signatories in Cuba are opposition figure Manuel Cuesta Morua, writer Angel Santiesteban, activist Dunia Medina Moreno and journalist Maria Matienzo. Among those from overseas are musicians Willy Chirino and Paquito D’Rivera, editor Felipe Lazaro, historian Ariel Hidalgo and activist Elena Larrinaga.
It is not the first time Milanés has spoken out against the Cuban regime. The artist, who has lived in Spain since 2004, is among former supporters of the Cuban revolution who have spoken out strongly against the repression of demonstrations that took place throughout the country on July 11, 2021.
His stance, which has been much more critical than those of other members of his generation, notably Silvio Rodriguez, raised huge expectations for his June 12 concert in Havana.
Faced with protests after it was revealed that most of the two thousand tickets to the scheduled performance at the National Theater of Cuba had been sold to government “agencies,” authorities moved the show’s venue to Havana’s Sports City Coliseum.
Officials’ fear that Milanés would repeat on stage what he had posted on social media clouded the event. There was also fear that there would be a repeat of what happened at Carlos Varela’s concert on May 29 when some in the audience chanted “freedom” on several occasions during the performance. A heavy police presence and a very thorough check of bags and cell phones overshadowed the emotion of the audience, who that had not heard one of its most iconic musicians perform live for several years.
*Note: Signature numbers updated as of posting this translation.
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