There are no free elections without free people, free citizens, free men and free women / Oswaldo Paya

We are on the eve of new elections in Cuba. And I am reminded that the first law issued in Sierra Maestra during the anti-Batista insurrection before the elections scheduled in 1958, was a death penalty law. It was designed to punish with death those who took part in the elections. It also punished those who voted because the elections were corrupt. The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and the opposition do not kill people, nor sabotage, nor exclude, everyone knows it. Our motto is Freedom and Life. We do not want power for ourselves; we want peace and civil rights for all, because where there are no rights there is no justice.

We seek only power for the people, popular sovereignty, as did Martin Luther King, remember? Power to the people! …

We denounce institutionalized corruption. The one that has the power declares us enemies and does not compete with the opposition but the sentences, stigmatized and annihilates it.

In 1954 there was a campaign in Cuba that promoted amnesty, the promoters were those who claimed there is no such thing as free elections while there are political prisoners. The current regime does not recognize or respect the right of individuals, Cubans, and the opposition to defend political differences. The difference between government and opposition in Cuba is much different from any that exists in a democracy. The contradiction between the opposition and the government in Cuba is based precisely on the lack of democracy respect towards the political rights of citizens, it is more than a contradiction, it is an antagonism between the people and the totalitarian system. We do not antagonize the people that govern and those identify themselves for some reason with the government, we do not call other “worms” or treat anyone with hatred, but we do claim that neither they nor we, nor anyone in Cuba is free under this system.

Will they claim that the Communist Party and other areas of the government are not preparing the candidates and ensuring they only they are represented by the delegates in each district? Tell that to the protagonists of these pre-election conspiracies.

In 1992, when Aldana (before Robaina, Lage and Perez Roque) said that the opposition could compete in the elections, I said I would. What did they do? The police came to my house and took me to the local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) in Zaragoza and Carmen on the neighborhood of Cerro, there was a circus prepared with a tribunal chaired by one of the Communist party local leaders, the same one who had assaulted and looted my house on July 11, 1991 and who died in the United States (he received his visa to meet with their children in the US, something that the Cuban government has denied my family for years, but that’s a different topic…). State Security participated in this circus. There were many uniformed officers, and a lady told me that if I was a Christian and did not want see blood run I should not to disturb the assemblies by submitting my application for candidacy. That was intimidation against citizens so that they would know what it meant to support me. The message reached everyone; nevertheless, the day of the assembly they placed agents in the neighborhood, many of whom were visibly armed, they said they were waiting for Paya to show up.

On July 6, 2006 they prepared a similar operation, during which they wrote on a wall a few feet from my house: “In a besieged plaza, dissenting is treason” Who did they want to intimidate, me? As a human being I have felt fear, but ir does no dominate me. I am still a dissident although I have never been part of the oppressive regime, but I identify myself with that term proudly because my family has always defended democracy. Dissent is a right and the Cuban government categorizes it as treason, as does Chavez back in Venezuela. This is a permanent violation of civil liberties. There are no free elections in such an environment, and with such laws.

If there is no legal recognition of the right to exist, participate in politics, dissent and work without persecution there are no elections, no pluralism. We denounce that the people cannot decide, we do not make laws like the ones they made before 1958. The people are not free and it does not make any sense for them to participate in elections that are only a contradiction to democracy. I think it’s a way to delay and divert the real change that Cuba wants and needs. The lack of freedom of association, expression and free elections are the barriers to political participation from the people. If Cubans do politics, they become victims of political exclusion and other injustices.

The peaceful, logical and fair solution that can lead to changes and genuine dialogue is to recognize those rights. Enough with reactionary justifications that say the people are not ready do not want change, do you think fifty-four years without freedom and rights are not enough? Others say that people do not want rights, what an insult! Others may say that many Cubans want this government. I don’t think so, but in any case no Cuban can decide what they want in this environment, with these laws and with this system Cubans cannot chose who they want to govern them, which system to have. We demand rights for all, without hatred or offense, with justice; everyone knows that not even the People’s National Assembly can decide freely, they also receive orders. This will change only when they are elected by the people, only then they will obey the people.

That is our demand, we keep calling all Cubans, no matter how they think or what background they come from, to be part of the solution and changes, this can only be done by the people. Why say no to our rights? Why the elitism? Philosophies and theologies? What oppresses us is fear, intolerance and the determination of a group to remain in absolute power. Abandon the simulation! Take the path of the people which is the path of democracy.

On behalf of the Christian Liberation Movement.

Oswaldo J. Paya Sardinas

July 20, 2012

Note: Only two days later, on July 22 the National Coordinator of our Movement, Oswaldo Paya, tragically died with our brother Harold Cepero in suspicious circumstances not yet clarified. We issue this message, due to its relevance to current events in Cuba and in memorium to them. Through this article we show that his example and legacy remain alive in each of us, and it continues to lead the Cuban people across the way of the people and the conquest of their rights, a people and path so greatly loved by Harold and Oswaldo.

Board of coordinators of the Christian Liberation Movement.

October 17, 2012

Ofelia Acevedo Maura                                                                               Narviel Hernández Moya

Juan Felipe Medina                                                                                     Eduardo Cardet Concepción

Ernesto Martini Fonseca                                                                         Andrés Adolis Chacón Aroche