THE NATION PROJECT OF THE LAWTON FOUNDATIONDr. Oscar Elías Biscet
President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights
Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner
In 1997, the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights decided to put into practice the theoretical fundamentals of non-violent civic struggle, and chose the event that would take place at the Jose Marti Civic Plaza where Pope John Paul II offered a homily to the Cuban people as its stage. The objective of our non-governmental organization is to promote among Cuban citizens the idea that it is possible to liberate themselves from the tyrannical regime of the Castros through non-violent political defiance with minimal cost in terms of suffering for the Cubans themselves.
An hour before the Pope made his entrance into the Havana plaza, the members of the Lawton Foundation had already raised a banner with the inscription “Remember the prisoners and those who suffer,” and on the backside of the banner it stated “Liberty for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.” This last phrase was accompanied by a list of prisoner names, among them those from “The Nation Belongs to Everyone.”
Five minutes before the entry of leader Fidel Castro, we were violently removed from the premises. Thanks to the protection of some French priests and two journalists from Fox News, we were able to leave the plaza very worried but without major injuries.
Since then, the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights has operated with decorum, intelligence, altruistic love, and perseverance for the respect of the lives of unborn children and the human rights of the Cuban people.
The merits of the beautiful and intense work done by the Foundation have brought national and international recognition. Nevertheless, the majority of its work has been conducted in silence and without publicity, and untainted by self-promotion. For that reason I congratulate all its members and encourage them to continue carrying out this worthy cause.
We propose to promote the strategy of non-violent resistance as the most suitable weapon that should be used by the opposition democratic movement in search of respect for human rights and liberty for our people. And the valiant, loving, wise, and patriotic words of the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Pedro Meurice, have filled us with an intense patriotic love, which inspires us to challenge the terror imposed on this unfortunate nation by the state. Those words were:
“[…] Cuba is a country that has a profound calling to solidarity, but throughout its history it has seen its spaces for association and the participation of civil society dismantled or run aground in a way that I present to you the soul of a nation that yearns to reconstruct fraternity based on liberty and solidarity.A decade later, our people feel inspired by the internal examples of the peaceful opposition, and by the external examples of non-violent paradigms provided by the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East. The Cuban people, under the direction of the democratic opposition movement, have consolidated behind non-violent civic struggle as the strategic and tactical method to obtain its liberty and create a State with democratic rights in our country.
“I want to present in this Eucharist all of those Cubans and citizens of Santiago who cannot find sense in their lives, who have not been able to choose and develop a life project because of the road to depersonalization, which is the fruit of paternalism.
“In addition, I present a growing number of Cubans who have confused country with political party, the nation with an ideology. They are Cubans who upon rejecting everything at once without discernment, they feel rootless, rejecting what is from here and overvaluing everything foreign.”
According to Nathan Sharansky, dictatorial regimes such as that of the Castro brothers are fearful societies, and “they are characterized by an inexorable process of stagnation, regression, and subsidence that the only way to defeat them is with external help.” For that reason I have over the years vehemently condemned those civilized and developed countries who continue to prop up the communist dictatorship.
According to Sharansky, the socialist system in Cuba is in its final phases. Fearful societies that are in the terminal stage are identified by the increase in state terror and the growing number of duplicitous individuals. If we add to this the lost ideology of the system, the regime is even weaker because of the fact it is a post-communist state whose ideology has failed in an emphatic way. This is the ideal moment to put an end to the Castro dictatorship through massive, non-violent political defiance and not offer it any support whatsoever, which might provide it with political legitimacy and with financial and economic resources both internally and externally.
Many ideas come to our minds, but they serve little purpose if we do not put them into practice out of our own free will. The dictatorship, in order to avoid allowing liberating ideas to develop in our daily lives, blocks our will through fear and depersonalization, in the same way it eliminates our self-esteem in order to convert us into instruments of their design.
In order to get out of this apathetic and weak state, it is necessary to open the internal sources of our own free will. This is only possible through healthy and pure activism, as the Pope described to the young people when he said: “be protagonists of your own personal and social history.” That is why I tell the Cuban people to resist those who are tired, who have failed, whose love of country is weak, who are devoid of hope and self-love, who are traitors, and to be protagonists of their own history in order to be a free people.
The hour has arrived for Cubans to topple the communist dictatorship that for more than fifty years has destroyed our economy, our educational and religious structure, our morality, and our ethics for civilized coexistence. Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by the false proposal of change within the same government that has enslaved us for more than half a century regardless of the institution, group, or person who presents it. It is very difficult for the Communist Party to initiate profound changes when in the last five years it has purged from its ranks its most moderate thinkers. The communist orthodoxy persists at all levels of leadership, and they use democratic centrism, or better said the subordination of all its members with no respect for the minorities.
Nevertheless, let us presume for a moment the utopia that the communist regime will voluntarily accede and grant profound transformations. What should they be?
- Ratify the international human rights pacts, especially those dealing with civil and political rights.
- Preemptively put into practice inalienable rights.
- Repeal Article Five of the Communist Constitution.
- Allow the entry, exit, and permanence of all Cubans on the island with a full guarantee of their rights.
- Guarantee the direct participation of every Cuban in exile in all the processes of democratic change in their country.
- The resignation of all current members of the Council of State and of the government, and those linked to crimes against humanity.
On another front, it is necessary to be on guard because the Castro government has immense political and economic power to conduct policies of subversion. The classic example can be found in how from the island the regime has been able to subvert the social order of Venezuela, Nicaragua, has strong influence in Bolivia, and great potential in Honduras. If they can accomplish this in foreign lands, there is nothing they cannot do here.
For example, they have the capacity, which they have demonstrated, to infiltrate with their intelligence agents the leadership of democratic organizations, to destroy opposition organizations, and to perpetrate extrajudicial assassinations of the true leaders committed to the liberty of their nation.
Because of this, the wisest thing to do is not to trust the government, or those who want to prolong its existence and who forget the many years of failure and cruel tyranny. It is better to place our trust in the Biblical God and in our own efforts, supported by our own people, organizing and training them in the methods of non-violent civic struggle in order to strengthen them. That is the only way to obtain a quick and lasting victory.
A fearful society is kept that way with state terror combined with scientific methods to unleash psychological and psychiatric disorders in the population. Among them is post-traumatic stress disorder and learned helplessness disorder. These mental processes do not disappear overnight or immediately with liberty; in fact, there should be prolonged medical treatment or the reinforcement of democratic institutions so that the people can begin to trust in them and start feeling fulfilled and free.
This is why I am left astonished and incredulous when I hear proposals to carry out plebiscites or general elections under the control of the dictatorship, or recently liberated from it. The triumphant allies in Nazi Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq prudently waited for a time to reestablish the self-confidence of every free citizen.
The period of transition in Cuba should begin with reestablishing the historic memory of the nation through the applicable clauses of the 1940 Constitution, with a balance of independent powers and a provisional government made up of all the democratic forces in the country. Once the country is stable, within that transition period, a provisional democratic constitution should be instituted as a basis for local and regional elections, and a democratic transitional government in preparation for general elections and the founding of the Free Republic of Cuba.
An independent judiciary, from the beginning of the transition period, will determine the integration of the Superior Electoral Tribunal, which will guarantee the organization and transparency of elections under the supervision of international bodies. It is important that Articles 184 and 185 of the 1940 Constitution be reviewed. In the communist Constitution there exists the constitutional atrocity that the judiciary is subordinate to the Legislative Assembly and the Executive power.
I believe also that it is of vital importance that the future Free Republic of Cuba is organized as a secular state where the market economy is predominate and the plenitude of fundamental liberties of every citizen is respected. In addition, I think that the republic should be constructed beginning now with responsibility and intense public and professional debate in all branches of knowledge, including the political sciences. In conclusion, I aspire to promote the triad of Livingstone: Christianity, commerce, and civilization. Remembering that we are part of the western world, the one with a Socratic civilization and a Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian culture.
I conclude with the enduring words of the much loved and admired Monsignor Pedro Meurice:
“Over the years this country has defended the sovereignty of its geographic borders with true dignity, but we have forgotten the point that independence should sprout from the human beings who sustain from below every project as a nation.”