The Influences of Paya Over My Life / Mario Lleonart

Away from the capital and without any contact with the Christian Liberation Movement I thank God who made use of small signs of liberty that came to me from here and there in order to guide me in the middle of the sad and confused Cuban reality.  Even in reading from a book as poisonous as “The Dissidents” I realized where good and evil were really found.

Maybe the most significant and influential for me have been the so-called spiritual leaders in exile, Cuban pastors and priests who in Miami, and beyond religious differences, kept very alive their love of Cuba and shared it like a fire in periodic prayer meetings and through joint projects and whose news and messages arrived at the island through radio programs like those conducted by Francisco Santana such as “The Cuban and His Faith” or “Cuba, Your Hope,” or Lenier Gallardo, pastor of the Lutheran Church “Prince of Peace” in spaces like “Yesterday, Today and Forever” or in his classic Sermon of the Seven Words each holy week.

As part of that faith group and representing the Baptists was Marcos Antonio Ramos, very influential as pastor and intellectual in exile and of great reputation among Cuban Baptists.  They not only defended the validity of the Varela Project in exile, in the middle of many instances of misunderstanding and confusion but also in an indirect way and thanks to the broadcasting helped to inform many like me on the island.

Whatever happens from here on I will be eternally satisfied that I will not be able to say that they did not knock on my door, and when they knocked I accepted the challenge:  I am a signatory of the Varela Project and I refused to endorse the reform of the Constitution that declared the irrevocable character of socialism in Cuba, a clumsy reaction of the regime before the mastery of Paya, celebrated by Carter in his visit to the island as well as various figures from around the world.

The correctness of my citizen decisions I owe in great part to the influence that notwithstanding such obstacles came to me from one Paya with whom I never had the honor of shaking hands, but from whom I always had the joy of finding myself spiritually near, and now more.  The arguments that were heard from this brave man, opposing all the useless indoctrination of the regime’s propaganda to which I was exposed during all the years of my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, made me react to the reality that I had a right to rights, and with me my fellow man, the totality of my fellow citizens, with all and for the good of all.

Translated by mlk

November 1 2012