|Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba|
Contrast this with what Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas did. In the midst of a brutal totalitarian dictatorship were all media are controlled by the government along with economic life he managed to lead a movement that persuaded more than 24,000 Cubans to identify themselves and demand democratic reforms and the restoration of human rights knowing that the Varela Project petition they were signing could lead to losing their jobs, having their children denied access to higher education and in the worse case prison.
The images of the movement, unlike the Castro regime's are nonviolent and inclusive and focus on liberation and reconciliation not violence and killing. They are profoundly anti-Castro precisely because they aren't anti-anyone. They do not succeed to destroy or slander anyone but to free a people.
Oswaldo rejected hatred and violence. He never killed anyone and offered a path to a nonviolent transition. Oswaldo's nonviolent legacy has continued beyond him and is a positive legacy for Cuba. His nonviolent struggle followed two of the basic principles outlined by nonviolence practitioner Michael N. Nagler: "We are not against other people, only what they are doing. Means are ends in the making; nothing good can finally result from violence." Oswaldo explained his position before an international audience in December of 2002:
The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: “You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together.” This is the liberation which we are proclaiming.
|Regime celebrates with parties anniversary of Cubans killing Cubans|
Sixty years after the tragic events of July 26, 1953 the Castro regime celebrates this shedding of blood between Cubans as "the victory of ideas," but in reality it was the triumph of brute violence and terror in the short term by Batista's forces on that day and in 1959 by Castro's forces. In Cuba the government has turned it into a day of drinking, parties, parades, speeches and the colors red and black prominently displayed. This all occurs with prominent military displays and propaganda images worshiping violent revolution.
Cubans have been poorly served by the events of July 26, 1953. The Moncada Barracks attack laid groundwork to undermine dialogue and negotiation in favor of armed struggle. Secondly, this armed struggle that promised to liberate Cubans from dictatorship imposed a new dictatorship that continues in power 60 years later.
|Weapons, violence and militarism are promoted throughout the culture|
One of these men, Gustavo Arcos, shot in the back during the Moncada attack on July 26, 1953 leaving him lame in the right leg was imprisoned with Castro in 1953 and imprisoned by Castro in 1966. Gustavo Arcos's criticism of the authoritarian nature of the regime led to his imprisonment which in turn led to his brother, Sebastian's disenchantment with the new regime. Both men, in 1981 would join the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, one of the earliest dissident movements founded in 1976 by Ricardo Bofill. They advocated nonviolent means to denounce human rights violations to the international community and call for a national dialogue to negotiate a democratic transition. The regime's response was repression and prison. When Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, passed away in 2006 the parallel between him and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was made in one of the articles remembering the old rebel turned nonviolent human rights defender.
|Follow the festivities of July 26 on the social networks|
|Government slogan: "Dissidence is Treason"|
There are two traditions battling for control in Cuba. One tradition, embodied by the Castro regime, based on violence and the destruction of the other has dominated Cuba's political discourse for half a century. It views dissent as treason and demands unanimity; the only acceptable ideas are the dictatorship's. The second, an older tradition that built the institutions of Cuban democracy in the 19th Century using nonviolent means, who founded companies with a social conscience such as Bacardi that contributed to the common good until forced out of their homeland, and of the democrats who helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 are still there in Cuba's nonviolent civic resistance movement.
|Peoples Path is a nonviolent alternative of liberation for all|
Ten years later and it remains clear that the future belongs to the nonviolent resistance. The dictatorship may have killed two of its great nonviolent leaders, Laura Inés Pollán Toledo and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, but in doing so exposed its own brutal nature and undermined its own legitimacy. At the same time Laura's amd Oswaldo's nonviolent legacies will continue to bear fruit and in the long term and will be an important factor in Cuba's democratic transition. Nagler in his studies on nonviolence observed that "Nonviolence sometimes 'works' and always works" put another way "in nonviolence, you can lose all the battles but still go on to win the war!" A coherent strategic nonviolent vision is necessary to achieve success, but practicing nonviolence over the long term does generate positive results in the same way that violence generates negative ones.
|Liberation with nonviolence is Cuba's future|
|May 10, 2002, a day to celebrate|
What this post-Castro Cuba will look like can already be intimated. May 10, 2002 will be a day of celebration in Cuba commemorating the day that the first 11,020 signatures of the Varela Project were presented to the National Assembly demanding human rights and democratic reforms. At the same time International Human Rights Day will be a day to celebrate and observe human rights in Cuba and not a day of repression. Oswaldo, Harold, Laura, Orlando, and many others have done the ground work and their good works will bear fruit. The Cuban Republic's human rights legacy that is tied to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and December 10, 1948 will be restored and Castroism will be a sad and cautionary chapter in Cuban history.