In an urgent press release, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (CLM), Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, rejected the election of Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, as the new president of Cuba and insisted that “the people should decide about who should lead the country and not the Communist party.”
The statement indicated that “disproportional expectations” existed outside of Cuba regarding the election of the new president. Such expectations “did not exist in the people” of Cuba, he said, “because the succession of Fidel Castro does not in itself bring the changes that the people want and need.”
Paya noted that the representatives that make up the National Assembly “were not elected by the citizens, because the electoral law does not allow the people to choose between various candidates and the ballot only included the same number of candidates as there are representatives. This never was nor will it ever be an election,” the CLM statement said.
The movement criticized Raul Castro for stating that “there are no antagonistic contradictions” in Cuba. “They do exist, because there is an essential antagonism between this system of no rights on the one hand, and the legitimate rights and interests of the people on the other.”
“The people of Cuba,” the statement continues, “want changes that signify freedom, the full exercise of their civil, political economic and social rights, reconciliation, peace and the exercise of sovereignty.”
Paya said the CLM would continue to “peacefully demand respect for the rights of all Cubans and the release of our brothers and sisters that have been unjustly condemned to prison solely for defending these rights. Our hope is in the people who, in any case, will be the protagonists of their own history,” he said.
Raul Castro was elected this Sunday as the new president of Cuba. In his first discourse as president, he announced several changes but said he would continue consulting with his brother Fidel about decisions “of special transcendence” for Cuba. “Fidel is irreplaceable and the people will continue his work when he is longer physically with us,” he stated.
The National Assembly also elected Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 71, as the new vice president. Machado is known for his staunch opposition to any political or economic change.