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Rosa María Paya – Totalitarianism Does Not Tolerate Participation

Rosa María Paya: Totalitarianism Does Not Tolerate Participation /
Leonel Luis Leon
Posted on December 7, 2015

Diario Las Americas, Leonel Luis Leon, 5 December 2015 — Rosa María
Payá, daughter of the deceased Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá –
who received the Andrei Sakharov Human Rights Prize from the European
Parliament and founded the Varela Project for a citizen plebiscite in
Cuba – received a major recognition of her civic activism on being
elected as the new president of the Latin American Network of Youth for
Democracy, whose congress was just held in Costa Rica.

In that Central American country, the young woman met with emigrating
Cubans stranded there, and from there she went to Venezuela, two days
before key parliamentary elections not only for Venezuela but also for
Latin Americans. She spoke with Diario Las Americas about Cuba,
Venezuela and the present and future of the region.

“I came to Venezuela as an independent Cuban citizen and to raise the
voice of those in Cuba who also want to choose. I am also representing
the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy, whose most recent
conference was just held in Costa Rica. The president of the Chilean
Senate, Patricio Walker, honored me with a personal invitation to
accompany him during his work in the Venezuelan parliamentary elections.
I have dear friends here, many of them are young politicians and social
activists working for the democratization of their country.

We have an event with Lilian Tintori, for the wrongful conviction
against her husband Leopoldo Lopez and the right of our peoples to live
in truth, without any government being able to hijack our freedoms with
impunity. As my father said, ‘We can not, we do not know how and do not
want to live without freedom.’ And young people in particular have to be
supportive of this demand throughout the continent, or end up
compromising our future under a sort of authoritarian alliance of the
Americas,” said Payá.

This young Cuban woman is the main promoter of “Cuba Decides,” a citizen
initiative for the holding of a binding plebiscite in favor of free,
pluralistic and fair elections in Cuba. “Cuba Decides is not an
organization, nor does it have a defined ideological perspective. For
over half a century we Cubans, who are one people, have been excluded
from the political, economic and social decisions made in our nation.
After the violent takeover of 1 January 1959, authority in Cuba has
never been legitimized by democratic elections.

“The Cuban people never chose to live without freedom. No people have
ever chosen this, whenever they have been asked in a free, safe and
competitive plebiscite, without state coercion or under a culture of
fear imposed by the political police. Totalitarianism does not tolerate
participation. The ability of such a caste to govern depends on
repression at all levels against those whose opinions and initiatives
differ from those of the official elite.

“Thus, the option of a referendum in Cuba that gives our voice back to
Cubans – wherever we reside — is liberating, with due safeguards so that
no fraud is committed: free access to debate in the national media,
freedom of association, parallel counting of the vote, international
observers throughout the preparatory process for the plebiscite,” she said.

Payá is convinced that only Cubans can rightfully decide on the changes
needed in their society today: “And for them to be able to design a
common future, they must first be guaranteed their rights by law, in an
environment of trust, cordiality and inclusion respectful to all. The
transition to democracy in Cuba will not start while Cubans continue to
be excluded from the agenda agreed in secret between global powers, with
or without the United States embargo, with or without the European Union
Common Position.

“Yet to be put on the negotiating table is the key question of how we
define ourselves, whether or not we are Cubans. And it is the question
of showing ourselves in favor or against the right of Cubans to choose,
which is the ‘right of rights’ of Cubans. ‘Changes are rights,’ my
father said, ‘the people of Cuba never chose not to choose.’ Thus, it is
time to ask the Cuban people, ‘Do you agree with convening free, fair
and plural elections, organizing yourselves freely in political parties
and social organizations with complete plurality, yes or no, at this key
time?’”

The Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy is a space created by
young political, social and student leaders who believe that the
democratic situation in the region is so precarious that, “it requires
organized action by the new generations to rescue the values of
citizenship before the advance of totalitarianism, disgracefully, in
most instances, instigated from Havana.

“The network has a president and now I have had the honor of being
chosen, but there is also an Executive Committee and a culture of debate
and participation of all members, far beyond hierarchies. From 2012 to
date, the network has brought together some fifty organizations of Latin
American civil society and includes young people from some twenty
countries, all with the commitment to defend, strengthen and consolidate
democratic institutions and the rule of law, promoting human rights and
rejecting the distortion and subjugation to any group, whatever its
ideological stripe.

“Being president is a commitment to all the democrats on the continent,
and especially to so many generations of young Cubans who have suffered
repression on the island or who have been forced into exile as a result
of it.

“I think especially of my friend Harold Cepero, killed by the Cuban
government when he was just 32, along with my father Oswaldo Payá, on
Sunday July 22, 2012. To my dear Harold I dedicate this recognition, he
could have played this role much better than I,” she said.

With regards to the evils that affect the societies of our hemisphere,
Payá insisted that for many years there has been an exaggerated
‘presidentialism’, that recalls the call for ‘direct democracy’
initiated by the Castros, and this has produced an imbalance in the
separation of powers appropriate to any modern democratic society. This,
in turn, supports all kinds of abuses from the executive branch, such as
the exceptional periods of government by decree and the lack of term
limits in the top job. All this brings more corruption to the
mismanagement of state resources and violations of all fundamental
freedoms and human rights.

“In the Cuban case, the growing international acceptance of the norms of
the repressive Cuban regime has not brought any significant change in
the social and political conditions of our population. The tragedy of
the Cuban people is not a problem between Cuba and the United States,
and this is much more obvious since 17 December 2014, because Cubans
continue in the same spiritual and material misery.

“The current immigration crisis of Cubans escaping through Central
America sadly demonstrates that. Inside and outside the island we
continue to be economic pariahs who are not invited to invest in and
generate wealth in our own country, beyond the granting of some licenses
to provide domestic services, which is the ‘consolation valve’ of
‘self-employment.’

“We lack a legal framework to behave as free and responsible citizens,
and state paternalism persists unchanged, from decades back. Even those
Cubans who live outside our country are subject to immigration
blackmail, and those who have spent two or more consecutive years
outside of Cuban have to comply with the humiliating paperwork of
‘repatriation,’ or they can never reside permanently in Cuba, something
that is technically called apartheid.

“The cruelest embargo, and the one that depends only on Cubans to
maintain or eliminate it, is the one maintained by the Havana regime
against the rights of our citizens. Cuba has not opened in any way to
its own citizens and there is no reason to trust that it will be the
Cuban government that brings to pass such an opening.”

Source: Rosa María Paya: Totalitarianism Does Not Tolerate Participation
/ Leonel Luis Leon | Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/rosa-maria-paya-totalitarianism-does-not-tolerate-participation-leonel-luis-leon/

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