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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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