- Documents on Democracy
The Ninth Ibero-American Summit was held in Havana, Cuba, on November 15–16. Visiting heads of state were allowed to meet for the first time with members of the Cuban opposition. In connection with the Summit, Cuban dissidents released a statement entitled “All United,” which they distributed to journalists and visiting dignitaries. The text, in its entirety, appears below:
We, the delegates of the independent civic, social and political organizations, have worked with a spirit of fraternity and service to our homeland and, as a result of this joint endeavour have, all united, achieved this declaration, which we now present to the people of Cuba, to the representatives of the nations of Ibero-America and to the whole international community.
All of us sons and daughters of this people are brothers and sisters, regardless of ideologies, political positions, life experiences, races and religious beliefs, whether living in Cuba or outside it.
At this time when we are on the threshold of the new millennium, we Cubans have to and wish to define the path to improving our society and sowing the foundations for the future of the new generations. We follow the vocation of solidarity in which our national identity was forged in this beautiful land that God gave us. Here, where the apostle Jose Marti wanted us to achieve a homeland “with everyone and for the good of everyone.” We are working for reconciliation between Cubans and to achieve the juridical framework and the conditions that will guarantee the rights and possibilities of exercising freedom of expression and access of all to the media, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of association and political pluralism.
We are working to achieve, for everyone, the growth in the standard of living and quality of life which can only be achieved if all economic and social rights are respected and practised. For Cubans this would [End Page 212] mean participation via their labour, their management and creativity in the economic life of the country, including also their rights to set up, possess and develop, individually and collectively, their own enterprises and to hire freely. The demands of the peasants and rural communities must be heard, guaranteeing them freedom of association and expression. This whole new economic dynamic, so urgent for resolving the crisis Cuba is living through, must and can be achieved within a framework of fair distribution and respect for the dignity of the individual, directed towards the common good.
We demand the release of all the prisoners and detainees for political reasons. This would not only be a step of justice and goodwill on the part of the Cuban government but is an unavoidable condition if we want to travel the path of genuine reconciliation and renewal in Cuban society.
The Cuban people have the sovereign right to change the constitution and the laws to bring them into line with their rights, interests and future prospects. Many seek to talk for the Cubans. It is time for the Cuban people to be consulted via the ballot box so that they can decide, on the basis of the law, what the laws which rule their lives should be.
We exhort Cubans to demand civilly respect for their rights, beginning with those granted to us by the constitution of the republic and which are not observed by the authorities. We exhort the Cuban government to promote an atmosphere of respect for human rights. It is in this atmosphere that we can achieve peaceful change in our society, according to the wishes of the Cuban people.
It is we Cubans, as “protagonists in our history” who must achieve everything in order to build that better society, as free men and women.
We Cubans, after living through various historic experiences, have every ability to realize our own project of social justice and full development, where the end is the total fulfilment of the human being.
We neither support nor ask for measures from outside to isolate Cuba. We also recall that as long as we are isolated by the very political and economic system which prevails in our country it is untrue to think that Cubans benefit from or...