|Regis Iglesias, Oswaldo Payá and Tony Díaz on May 10, 2002|
It was twelve years ago today that a small contingent of Cuban activists and human rights defenders marched up to the Assembly of Popular Power in Havana, Cuba to turn in 11,020 signatures of Cuban citizens proposing an initiative for human rights reforms based in existing Cuban law that was and is called Project Varela. Over twitter today Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo wrote: "On 12th anniversary of the first delivery of Project Varela our tribute to the brave Cuban citizens who led the initiative." She also invited in another tweet to use the hashtag #ProyectoVarela today.
|Activists on their way to the Assembly of Popular Power with petitions|
Project Varela was an important step in the auto-liberation of the tens of thousands of Cuban citizens who signed it and that is its most important legacy. However, two other of the many important things that it generated are that:
1) Following decades of successfully muzzling the voices of most Cubans and maintaining a propaganda offensive domestically and internationally that gave the impression of near unanimity with the regime's political project was finally broken. Tens of thousands of Cubans risking everything had said they wanted change.2) Cuba's dissident movement portrayed as fragmented and ineffectual had managed to do what no other dissident movement had been able to do outside of Poland and that was to create a mass mobilization around clearly defined objectives within the existing constitution under Articles 88 g and 63 that placed the dictatorship on the defensive.
Besides the right to carryout the petition, the current Constitution in Cuba reflects the rights for which Project Varela seeks assurances in law.We publicly clarify to Mr. Fidel Castro that Project Varela does not request a change in the Constitution, but rather carrying out changes in the laws so that such rights that are in the Constitution are complied with and that the decision be taken by the sovereign people consulted in a Referendum.
|Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas reviewing petitions|
|Project Varela Activists back in the day|