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Cuba Transition to Democracy Summit held in Miami

2006-11-08 / Kristina Prunerová

A conference entitled “Cuba Transition to Democracy Summit” was held on October 13, 2006 at the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Miami. Former presidents and politicians as well as current diplomats and representatives of governments from Latin America and Eastern Europe as well as the USA gathered at this event to express their support to democratic change in Cuba.

The objectives of this event were to highlight the recent initiative by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Slovenia in forming the “Friends of Democratic Cuba” to support a democratic transition in Cuba; to identify specific ways to assist the Cuban pro-democracy movement by drawing from the transition experiences of Central and Eastern Europe; and to assemble a broad cross-section of Cuban leaders to exchange ideas on points of convergence to accelerate democratic change in Cuba.
Eastern European countries have been represented by Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kinga Goncz and Hungarian Ambassador to the US Andras Simonyi; former Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Cyril Svoboda and Czech Ambassador to the US Petr Kolar; Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski; Lithuanian Member of Parliament Emmanuelis Zingeris; Slovak Ambassador to the US Rastislav Kacer. Together with European organizations supporting Cuban independent civil society they offered encouragement and support for Cuban political prisoners and activists working toward a democratic change on the island.

Among the participants from United States there were Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutiérrez, Senator Mel Martinez, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and federal members of congress, Lincoln Diaz Balart, Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros Lehtinen. ICDC member Luis Alberto Lacalle, former President of Uruguay called for the creation of an economic recovery fund for a democratic Cuba. Recalling the boost given to Europe’s ravaged postwar economies by the Marshall Plan, President Lacalle’s call for a “Marti Plan” was favorably received by other speakers.

Orlando Gutiérrez of the Cuban Democratic Directorate summed up the summit: “We are here and the summit is possible because there is a resistance struggle for freedom taking place in Cuba. To recognize the sovereignty of that civic non-violent struggle is to recognize the sovereignty of Cuba. It is this struggle which embodies the aspirations of the Cuban people. There is not a simple latent desire for a change; there is an active pursuit of freedom.”

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This project is supported by funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic through the Transition Promotion Program.