.- Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Paya is challenging the government of Fidel Castro to present to the UN Human Rights Commission alternative projects that would facilitate democratic transition in the country. The initiatives Paya is referring to are the Varela Project and the Working Document for National Dialogue. Paya said the government should “explain why it is repressing these peaceful initiatives.” “Or are they going to try to silence them like they have done in Cuba?” he asked.
Paya, who heads the Christian Liberation Movement, sent a message to the Human Rights Commission in which he denounced that “there in Geneva, just as in Cuba,” the government doesn’t mention that “an alternative for peaceful change does exist.” He said the National Dialogue “does not exclude anybody” and that even the Cuban Chancellor, Felipe Perez Roque, has been invited to participate in the initiative.
The Varela Project promotes a series of constitutional reforms, but despite the 25,000 signatures gathered in support of the plan, it has not gained the approval of the National Assembly (Cuban law says only 10,000 signatures are needed to bring a proposal before the legislative body). The National Dialogue is an initiative designed to help Cubans both on the island and abroad come up with a peaceful democratic transition.
Human Rights Violations
On the other hand, Paya’s letter warns that the Human Rights Commission’s resolutions and calls for “the end of violations against the rights of its citizens” are not respected in Cuba. The letter also denounces the presence on the Commission of supporters of the Castro regime, because they are “enabling (the government of Castro) to violate these rights.”
“In Cuba people have disappeared and we know who made them disappear,” Paya stated in response to Perez Roque, who told the Commission that “there is not nor has there ever been unlawful execution” in Cuba.
“There are prisoners who have mutilated themselves, slashed their own veins, injected themselves with gas and hung themselves in order to escape the horror,” Paya noted in his letter to the Commission.
In recent days, Perez Roque reiterated Cuba’s refusal to cooperate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also said the formation of political parties or communications media that the government believes are financed by the United States would not be allowed to take place.