.- In an interview with the Associated Press, renowned Cuban activist Oswaldo Paya issued a request to the government of Cuba to grant him 15 minutes of airtime on Cuban television to explain his opinions about the upcoming elections in the Communist country. Paya, who is leader of the Varela Project, which works for civil rights in Cuba, was responding to statements by the head of Congress in Cuba, Ricardo Alarcon, who said last week opposition activists would be allowed to run in congressional elections in April.
“I challenge them again. I bet they don’t have the courage to give me 15 minutes on the station which we the people pay for with our work, even though they (government representatives) talk after me for seven hours each,” Paya said in a statement released to reporters.
Likewise, Paya noted that Alarcon’s statements were not published inside Cuba, but rather reproduced in the international media. “Mr. Alarcon, who before said that his fellow countrymen live in fear of losing their privileges or employment if they express their opinions, should say so here and in a clear way so that all citizens will believe him,” Paya stated.
On the other hand, Ernesto Marini, one of Paya’s closest collaborators, was clear Paya has no intentions of announcing his own candidacy in the coming elections.
Because there are no political parties for the opposition in Cuba, candidates for local and federal offices, as well as for other government agencies, are nominated at the local level by residents and arbitrarily designated by an electoral government committee.