In a press release issued in response to the news that Fidel Castro has stepped down as president of Cuba, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, said the Cuban dictator’s retirement should mark the beginning of an era of freedom and reconciliation in the country.
Fidel Castro announced on Tuesday that he is resigning from the presidency after 49 years in power. In a letter published by the official state newspaper Granma, he said he would neither “aspire to nor accept” another term as leader of the country.
The 81 year-old dictator resigned after ailing health forced him into seclusion from the public almost nineteen months ago, just five days before the country’s National Assembly was set to elect him for another five-year term.
Paya said the news “undoubtedly is of importance both historically and for the lives of Cubans both inside and outside of Cuba,” because “one man’s almost five decades of power has ended, and we have always said the successor of Fidel Castro should be the sovereign people.”
The leader of the Christian Liberation Movement is calling on Cuba’s National Assembly to “immediately work to transform the laws so that citizens may enjoy freedom of expression and of association, to transform election laws, hold free elections, free peaceful political prisoners or so that in order and in peace, in an atmosphere of reconciliation, the Cuban nation can begin a new phase in its life.”
Paya noted that “no matter how each Cuban views this period that has just ended, it should not lead to confrontation with one another but rather to looking together towards the future.”
“May God allow this news that has surprised the people and the world to open the way to this new era in the lives of the new generations and all the people and may it be one of peace, harmony, justice and rights,” he added.
“This is our call and our decision,” Paya said, “to continue working in this direction for the good of all Cubans. May God help the people of Cuba in this moment.”