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    DECLARATION OF SANTIAGO

    DECLARATION OF SANTIAGO
    03-03-2011.
    Concilio Cubano

    (www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- The Cuban people live in very difficult
    times. However, this is not news. For more than fifty years we have
    witnessed increasing poverty and the ongoing violation of our human rights.

    We have watched with sadness and outrage as our cities have become a
    heap of dust, destitute people, and discrimination. Instead of
    confronting these crises with meaningful change, the Castros blame
    others and make promises which are never fulfilled, and the Cuban people
    have no mechanism to hold them accountable for these failures. The
    regime treats Cuban citizens like children, attempting to control all
    aspects of Cuban life. They tell us how to do business, how to think,
    how to act. They have created a system that spreads doubt and division
    among us, weakening our unity, pitting Cuban against Cuban, benefiting
    some at the expense of others. The socialist economic model has stifled
    generations of Cuban creativity and productivity, resulting in decay and
    destitution. We deserve and demand better.

    Concilio Cubano is a forum that proposes to bring together all of the
    opposition groups that peacefully oppose the current regime. We intend
    to give the people of Santiago de Cuba, and eventually all of Cuba, a
    comprehensive program with viable proposals on political, economic, and
    social issues. These proposals will help us to exit the crisis to which
    the current regime has brought us; a regime that, despite fifty years in
    power now asks us for more sacrifices and more budget cuts, and intends
    to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers.

    We have gained consciousness of our current situation. We will not
    continue to remain silent. We want solutions, and we say enough to the
    speeches and empty formalities.

    We need a government that represents the whole population of Cuba in its
    diversity: political, ethnic, religious, sexual preferences, and other.
    We want the creation of institutions and laws consistent with that
    cultural diversity.

    We need a government whose primary interest is to respect freedom and
    equality, including] the free expression of thought, freedom of
    association, and economic freedom.
    We deserve a government that is accountable to the people of Cuba.

    Economic

    In the economic realm, the industries and commerce are in ruins. The
    economic system has been dominated by state control, stifled by
    bureaucracy, and crippled by a lack of competition. To address our
    economic crisis], the current regime proposes the "actualization of the
    socialist economic model." However, what this really means is the
    continuation of economic failure. In the new economic reform guidelines,
    one can recognize once again that the economic policy of the communist
    regime will be the same in its essence: foreigners will be the only
    people who will be allowed to open big businesses in conjunction with
    the regime. The Cuban people only get the crumb of self-employment
    activities. We will not have the right to increase or better our
    participation in the economy of our country.

    The regime also proposes taxes that are excessive and absurd. Previous
    experiences indicate that increasing taxes dispirits the consumer and
    inhibits productive activity. For this reason, the solution is not in
    creating new taxes; it is in reducing existing taxes to promote the
    creativity and productivity of the Cuban people.

    The regime has failed to meet the needs of working people. The workers
    who were recently laid off do not have the necessary resources to stay
    afloat in self-employment. It is truthfully inhumane to lay off a worker
    after decades of having paid him/her a miserable salary that does not
    add up to enough savings, without first ensuring that the person has
    access to bank loans. We are ashamed to see that the Center for Cuban
    Workers (CTC) and its top representative, Mr. Salvador Valdes Mesa, has
    supported the directives of Raul Castro and left the workers in a total
    state of helplessness.

    We are weary of public works projects that never yield any benefit to
    the people. Our streets have been destroyed again and again in the name
    of supposed infrastructure programs that are never completed, due to
    official indecisiveness and negligence. The so-called "work of the
    century," will not be called that for its quality but because it will
    last a hundred years before its completion.

    To promote greater economic freedom and opportunity, Concilio Cubano
    proposes the following:

    1. Grant full legal recognition to the Cuban people's rights to private
    property. These rights include: the right of homeowners to sell their
    homes; [the right to buy or rent housing freely; the right to freely
    make a will; and the right to inherit.]

    2. [Reform the tax code to promote productivity by reducing overall tax
    rates and creating tax incentives for workers and business owners.]

    3. Provide increasing economic opportunity for citizens under 35 and
    employment opportunities for the disabled. Provide skills education for
    workers of all ages who need to adjust to a new economy.

    4. Permit all citizens born in Cuba to be investors in medium and large
    companies whether or not they reside in the country or outside it. In
    other words, enable the decentralization of the economic activity of the
    country, which is currently in the hands of the totalitarian state. It
    is necessary to put this activity into the hands of Cuban citizens.

    5. Facilitate the granting of credit to all those who need it to start
    private businesses.

    6. Make possible the mixed association of foreign citizens and Cuban
    citizens within companies.

    7. Create a transparent and accountable government agency to oversee
    public works projects.

    Political and Legal

    In the political realm, one sees an increase in human rights violations
    including: the persecution and harassment of those who think differently
    than the regime; the dispossession of goods without any judicial order;
    arbitrary detentions; denial of rights of free speech and association,
    freedom of the press and media, and freedom of access to information;
    refusal to allow Cuban citizens to travel freely within Cuba and to and
    from foreign destinations; and interference with freedom of religion.

    These abuses are made possible by the lack of government accountability
    to the people of Cuba. There are no free and fair elections in which
    citizens can hold their officials accountable for their behavior.
    Political parties are denied the freedom to challenge abuses by the PCC.
    The lack of such accountability mechanisms leads to widespread
    government corruption. The court system is unable to provide a check
    against government abuses because it lacks the necessary independence.
    As a result, the Cuban people suffer from arbitrary tyranny and a
    failure of the rule of law.

    [To promote a transparent and accountable government that respects the
    rights of citizens, Concilio Cubano proposes the following:]

    1. [Recognize and enforce the human rights of all Cuban citizens,
    including the rights to freedom of speech, expression, and association;
    the right to private property; the right to freedom of religion; the
    right to a free press and access to information; and the right to free
    movement.]

    2. Eliminate all restrictions that prevent Cuban citizens from freely
    entering or leaving the country. Repeal Decree No. 217 from April 22,
    1997, which prevents the free movement of citizens, mainly into the city
    of Havana.

    3. Repeal Law 88, which criminalizes basic rights of association and
    access to information, and eliminate the law of social dangerousness. No
    one should be punished for exercising basic political and personal rights.

    4. Modif y the Criminal Procedure Code to guarantee the rights of the
    accused person and the fairness of the criminal justice process.

    5. Make these rights meaningful by: joining the American Convention on
    Human Rights and accepting the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court
    of Human Rights to hear cases of human rights violations in Cuba;
    creating an independent human rights commission with the power to
    investigate and address human rights abuses; and making the structural
    changes in #6 below that will enable citizens to effectively enforce
    their rights within the Cuban legal system.

    6. Restructure the government to provide transparency, accountability,
    and the rule of law. In particular: allow a wide range of political
    parties to organize, speak, campaign, and contest elections; hold free
    and fair elections; create an independent anti-corruption mechanism with
    open and transparent procedures; provide by law for the independence of
    the judiciary; provide by law for the independence of the parliament
    from the executive branch, and give the parliament sufficient power to
    act as a check on the executive.

    Social and Cultural

    The fabric of Cuban society has been frayed by more than fifty years of
    dictatorship. Cuban people have lived under a system in which they must
    often break the rules to survive. This experience has undermined respect
    for law and encouraged dependence. The regime coerces citizens into
    spying on each other and reporting on each other. It uses networks of
    informants to generate a massive system of surveillance which undermines
    social trust.

    Under the Castros, Cuban society has experienced the breakdown of basic
    social institutions, including regression in education, culture, health
    care and technology. In all these areas, the regime expects
    professionals to act as arms of the state, and refuses to allow them the
    independence necessary to establish relationships of trust with those
    they serve. Education has suffered. The system is designed to
    indoctrinate, not to educate. Maestros emergentes, or fast-track teacher
    syoung and inexperienced teachers who have been trained in a speedy
    process to cope with the loss of educated teachers leaving for better
    paying jobs], are failing our students and parents.

    The service in hospitals is poor; young doctors often receive inadequate
    training; there is insufficient confidentiality in the doctor-patient
    relationship; on many occasions medicines are not found; and our
    physicians are sent to complete international missions to the detriment
    of the inhabitants of the provinces who need medical attention. People
    with HIV are incarcerated in quarantine centers as though they were
    criminals instead of respecting their human rights.
    In our streets, we see the consequences of such social deterioration.
    Violence in our streets has considerably increased and we see with
    sadness how continuous assaults are produced, adding to the insecurity
    to our citizens.

    The widespread use of alcohol contributes to the increase in violence.
    Citizens who are struggling to survive and have little hope for their
    futures turn to violence against each other. This situation contributes
    further to the breakdown of social ties.

    Our cultural life has been stifled by the Castros. The regime dominates
    all creative and artistic expression. Artists are forced to represent
    the regime's point of view. The Castro regime has restricted peoples'
    access to technology in order to isolate them from the world, and it has
    selectively blocked websites representing dissident points of view.

    To rebuild the social and cultural realms, Concilio Cubano proposes the
    following:

    1. Disband all watchdog systems of surveillance.

    2. Reform the educational system to provide well-trained teachers, a
    focus on critical-thinking skills, and] the autonomy of educational
    institutions, particularly colleges and universities.

    3. Reform the health care system to provide well-trained health
    professionals; increase access to medicines and supplies in general;
    increase access to health care in the provinces in particular; and
    protect the independence of medical professionals.

    4. Eliminate the quarantine system for people with HIV.

    5. Create public health intervention programs to address the needs of
    the homeless, and those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.

    *6. Allow the development, and support the flourishing, of independent
    artistic and creative enterprises.

    7. Increase the Cuban people's free access to technology and internet
    communication.

    8. Protect the equal rights of all Cuban citizens – regardless of race,
    religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation – to marry, to
    have or adopt children, and to enjoy the benefits of family and private
    life.

    With the support of our people, the strength of our political program
    and our method of peaceful struggle, the time has arrived to demand
    change. Concilio Cubano forms part of the peaceful opposition that
    presents a viable alternative program. We represent the just demands of
    the people of Santiago de Cuba and eventually the Cuban people. We speak
    for this noble endeavor to all Cubans, not only to our friends, but also
    to those who colluded with injustice in the past but now hope for a
    future of freedom and prosperity.

    We believe that all Cubans, regardless of their past allegiances, should
    now come together to build a better future for our country. Because of
    our activities and our ongoing claim for our rights, we have been the
    victims of the biggest campaign of slander and repression that has ever
    been received by an opposition movement in contemporary history. This
    experience of repression has taught us that] the most important resource
    we have with which to speak is the truth. We aim to give a message of
    hope to our people: to the young who have lost their hopes, to the
    parents who have cried for the death of a son who attempted to find a
    future in another country, to the seniors who after many years of work
    receive a pension that does not afford them enough to eat, to the
    divided families who have missed their loved ones for years. To all
    those who have lost their faith: we present our Declaration, promising
    to continue our struggle for you.

    Santiago de Cuba, January 14, 2011.

    If you wish to contact us to discuss this Declaration or to report any
    denunciation that has to do with the violation of your rights, you may
    do so below by the following signatures:

    1 - Ernesto Vera Rodríguez. Lawyer Manager of the Eastern Provinces for
    Concilio Cubano. Vecino de José Antonio Saco # 1255 entre 6 y 7 Reparto
    Santa Bárbara, Santiago de Cuba. Teléfono 646333.

    2 - Raudel Ávila Lozada. Confederation of Workers of National
    Independent of Cuba (CONIC) and member of the Political Commission of
    Concilio Cubano. Vecino de Callamo # 618 entre Céspedes y Primero de
    Mayo, Palma Soriano.

    3 - Tania Montoya Vázquez. Municpals of Opposition of Palma Soriano.
    Vecina de carretera de San Luis # 13 Reparto La Concepción, Palma Soriano.
    4 – Rodis Mustelier Caignet. President of the National Board of
    Democratic Transition. Vecino de Carretera de Siboney km 12, Las Guásimas.

    5 – Pedro Antonio Alonso. Promoter of the Municpals of opposition and
    President of the Political Commission and Human Rights of Concilio
    Cubano. Teléfono 631487.

    6 – Lázaro Rosales Rojas. Coordinator of the Liberal Unity of Santiago
    de Cuba. Vecino de Paco Cabrera # 6B e/ Edel Mora Y Final, Reparto
    Timbales, municipio Contramaestre.

    7 – Idalmis Núñez Reynosa. Delegate of the FLAMUR and President of the
    Economic Commission of Concilio Cubano in Santiago de Cuba. Teléfono 674510.

    8 – Eunice Madaula Fernández. Executive Director of the CEEDPA "José
    Ignacio García Hamilton". Teléfono: 653115 y vecina de Pedro Alvarado #
    19 entre 8 y 10 Reparto Terrazas.

    9 - Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía. Political former prisoner. Vecino
    de Calle E # 74 entre B y D. Reparto Chicharrones, Santiago de Cuba.

    10 – Carlos Alberto Reyes Casanova. Municpals of Opposition of Palma
    Soriano and activist of Political Party of CID. Vecino de Villuendas #
    258 entre Avenida de la Libertad y Remus, Palma Soriano.

    http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/web/article.asp?artID=31464

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