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Citizens Formally Demand Their Rights From the Cuban Government

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A classic play of the Spanish theater, written by Lope de Vega in 1610, tells how an entire people kills a tyrannical and despotic commander. In the town of Fuenteovejuna the people come together to end the abuse of power exercised by one man. The neighbors agree to lynch the feudal lord who, from the first scenes demanded his droit de seigneur over the young women of the town. After the execution, a judge begins to investigate the possible author of the crime, but bumps up against a collective responsibility; the group is convinced that what was done was simply justice. To the question, "Who killed the Commander?" a chorus responds, "Fuenteovejuna, Sir." And when the judge asks, "And who is Fuenteovejuna?" an irrefutable affirmation hangs in the air: "All for one, Sir."

Fortunately, the civil society groups living in Cuba today -- activists, opponents, and dissidents -- are peaceful people. They are not proposing "to kill the Commander" nor any other bloody and traumatic solution. But they have learned the lesson that Lope de Vega dramatized so masterfully more than 400 years ago. Unity, convergence and reconciliation make them stronger against the verticality of the totalitarian government. The importance of creating coalitions is such that the main task of the Island's political police is now to destroy bridges and alienate potential allies. Intrigue, confrontation and fostering rivalries have come to be the hackneyed strategies employed by State Security to try to maintain a separation between the threads of the civic fabric. Sadly, they have achieved a lasting effect with such ignoble labor.

Nevertheless, the days of disagreement are coming to an end. Perhaps it is just my illusions, but I feel we have gained awareness that together we are very hard to silence. The most recent sign that we have managed to overcome the bickering is the document, "Citizen Demand for Another Cuba." To see a list of signatures with such plurality and diversity gives me hope. It makes me believe that all the intrigues cooked up in the offices of the intelligence services no longer make even a dent in our consciousness. What is a commander if his subjects decide not to blindly obey him? Who can impute to us the "crime" of opinion if every day more citizens dare to say what we think? Finally, Fuenteovejuna without its feudal lord.

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Citizen Demand for Another Cuba

As Cubans, legitimate children of this land and an essential part of our nation, we feel a deep sorrow at the prolonged crisis that we are experiencing and the demonstrated inability of the current government to make fundamental changes. This obliges us, from civil society, to seek and demand our own solutions.

The miserable incomes, shortages of food and shelter, the massive emigration due to lack of opportunities, the discrimination against those who think differently, the absence of spaces for public debate, the arbitrary arrests and lack of citizen rights, the corruption and the tenure and inability to remove the ruling elite, are some of the symptoms of the difficult reality facing us.

We want to debate publicly the dual currency, immigration restrictions, rights of workers to a living wage, the right of all Cubans, wherever they live, to promote economic initiatives in their own country, the demographic crisis, free access to the Internet and new technologies. We want to discuss the exercise of democracy.

The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes:

In its Article 3: In the Republic of Cuba sovereignty resides in the people from whom all the power of the State originates.

And in its Article 63: Every citizen has the right to direct complaints and petitions to the authorities and to receive the appropriate attention or responses in a timely manner, according to law.

WE DEMAND THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT:

Immediately implement the essential legal guarantees and policies conceived in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ratify the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, signed by the Government of Cuba on February 28, 2008 in New York City. This would ensure full respect for citizens regardless of their ideas or their political-social actions and restore the rights of everyone who, in their opinions, disagrees with the government. We consider these rights essential to the formation of a modern, free and plural Cuba that will receive us all equally and place our sovereignty in a dynamic and increasingly global world.

We are committed to democratic transformation where everyone can contribute their views and contribute to its realization. We invite all Cubans inside and outside the Island who identify with these demands, to join this just and necessary claim. Our expectation of being heard by the government is almost exhausted, yet we have decided to bring the authorities this demand as an urgent recourse to achieve effective understanding. We are determined not to accept institutional silence in response to this demand for the ratification of the agreements mentioned.