Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cuban dissident Regis Iglesias at 2013 Geneva Summit for Human Rights

Yes, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed, they were victims of an attack that cost them their lives and this we know from the first day by the reports that both victims and witnesses made reached their friends in and out of the island. - Regis Iglesias

Regis Iglesias
Spokesman of the Christian Liberation Movement


In May 2002, for the first time since the dictatorship of Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, more than 11, 020 Cubans legally demanded a plebiscite for their rights to be recognized.

I was one of those Cubans who signed and gathered the necessary signatures, as established by the Cuban Constitution, to make valid the citizen petition to the authorities.

I was one of the managers of the Varela Project and was privileged with Oswaldo Payá and Antonio Diaz to present this demand at the headquarters of the Cuban Parliament.

In Cuba the right of citizens to freely express their thoughts, or to associate freely according to their interests is not respected. Not even economic freedoms, despite cosmetic measures that as a concession, not as a right established and guaranteed, authorities now announce to the world and are nothing more than fraudulent change to maintain the privileges of a caste in power.

In Cuba there are no free elections and what the Cuban regime calls "participatory process" is simply the ratification of 612 individuals selected by organizations related to the dictatorship, to fill the 612 seats of national Deputies.

For this we,75 leaders and activists for the rights and freedoms of Cubans, were abducted and sanctioned in a grotesque judicial farce.

We were arrested and stayed for 30 days in sealed cells, hot and crowded with individuals charged with drug trafficking. In 30 days I was only able to see the sun once and was constantly subjected to interrogations in air conditioned offices with low temperatures, to intimidate me and in vain try to make me confess to the infamous calumnies with which our captors accused us.

Later, we were transferred hundreds of miles away from our homes and jailed with common criminals in prisons across the island. We were nearly not allowed visits or communication with our families, our correspondence was violated, we were not allowed in those first years to read the Bible or books about the history of Cuba and everything else.

More than a few of us were victims of savage beatings by our jailers. Our food was meager and of very poor quality. Insects, rodents and the stench swarmed in those unsanitary conditions constantly exposing us to all kinds of diseases.

Eventually something changed, although very little this shameful punishment, but for some of our colleagues in the same case the extreme conditions of detention remained almost unchanged.

Finally for many of us there was no choice but to decide at the request of our exhausted families in 2010 to go into exile. They too were also victims of inhuman treatment by having to move in the difficult conditions of public transport in Cuba, hundreds of kilometers to be able to see us and bring books, pens, some food and medicine. Our families were also mistreated and humiliated by our captors.

The promises of change by the regime, until now, are nothing but another farce to try to gain time and consolidate oligarchic privileges.

What, if not, is this supposed "freedom of travel" that still leaves to the Cuban political police to deliver the final decision to the person who intends to travel, the passport authorizing or not to do so? Blackmail, one more method of selective repression based in the regime's interests and in many cases does not depend on the benefits or lack of benefit to the individual.

Same goes with the measures to revive the broken economy and agriculture of the island. It is ultimately State Security who decides whether the person can engage in a small business of services or have a lease for a limited time of some parcel of land to make produce.

Oswaldo Payá fought against this fraudulent change, as he called it and as we call it. He fought against the perpetuation of the oligarchy that maintains the Cuban people subject.

This honest and consistent position of the founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement was shrill to the ears of the island’s Military-Economic Junta and the interests of those both inside and outside the island who are interested in pacts of privileges and not rights.

This is why they killed him together with Harold Cepero on Sunday July 22, 2012 while traveling with two youths in solidarity from Spain and Sweden who had gone to the island to explore the feelings and aspirations of the Cuban people.

Yes, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were killed, they were victims of an attack that cost them their lives and this we know from the first day by the reports that both victims and witnesses made reached their friends in and out of the island. These facts we have been able corroborate with surviving witnesses to this crime. With them, who they have tried to impose a fierce gag upon even when they are out of Cuba but remain hostage to the dictatorship’s blackmail of their governments, democratic governments, that are silent and try to silence the truth they have known from the first moment of the incident.

We therefore call upon the international community, and people of goodwill to support us in creating an independent commission to investigate the events of July 22, 2012 and bring to light the truth that we have known and has been confirmed by all the witnesses.

Oswaldo and Harold on that day were visiting leaders and activists in the east of the island that are distributing and working on The People’s Path initiative.

This proposal, which has been signed by over 2,000 activists from more than 70 organizations working to defend human rights, most of them on the island, is the response of Cuban democrats to these attempts of fraudulent change that ignore the people's rights and tries to ignore and disparage the nonviolent Cuban opposition.

We want our democratic brothers in the world to know this, know that in Cuba in the midst of the most terrible repression they are working, without hatred but without fear, for real changes that bring closer the day of freedom.

We want you to listen to us, that solidarity go to that incipient civil society that grows and multiplies, that is able to agree on the essentials for our people: civil, economic and political liberties, social justice first and free elections. This is the change that we are working for, the change that many Cubans have already offered, in over half a century of dictatorship, their generous lives.

It cannot be either in America or Europe the prerogative of a party, or government the quotas of solidarity with the Cuban people, or at what moment it is more appropriate according to their own national interests to be supportive or not. We do not need this hypocritical exclusivity.

We want as an independent nation, that we be supported in a timely and sincere manner to return our sovereignty, kidnapped by a tyranny, to the Cuban people, as we ourselves design our own present and future project.

We want our friends around the world to join us on the path that we have designed and that we are already walking the People’s Path.

We Request Solidarity with our Liberation.

Thank you. 

Discurso original en castellano

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