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Liberty and Democracy in Latin America Forum in Uruguay

2006-11-02 / Cuban Democratic Directorate

Montevideo, Uruguay, November 1, 2006. In a major victory for the Cuban democratic opposition, the Liberty and Democracy in Latin America Forum that took place this Wednesday, November 1, in Montevideo, Uruguay, revealed a continent wide initiative underway to demand the Cuban government’s keeping of the Viña del Mar Accords, a pledge for democratic change and respect for human rights it signed at the VI Ibero-American Summit in 1996.

The conference was organized by the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba, the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL) and the Manuel Oribe Institute. Former president Armando Calderón Sol of El Salvador, as well as Luis Alberto Lacalle and Julio María Sanguinetti of Uruguay, spoke about the Viña del Mar Accords as an instrument for securing freedom and democracy. Costa Rica’s former president Luis Alberto Monge also joined the group through a written statement. Together, the former heads of state affirmed that the accords should have a binding effect on the Cuban government and that they must be concretely respected.

The International Youth Committee for Democracy in Cuba and the International Women’s Committee for Democracy in Cuba also issued statements supporting the Cuban people’s right to determine their own future and calling for respect of all their rights.

Representatives of Cuba’s civic opposition movement who attended the event expressed satisfaction and gratitude for the unprecedented solidarity offered to the Cuban people’s aspirations for freedom, democracy and prosperity through this event.

The forum’s four panels took place in a packed venue. In the first session, Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, Sylvia Iriondo, of Mothers and Women against Repression in Cuba, Angel de Fana, of Plantados until Freedom and Democracy, and Húber Matos, of Independent and Democratic Cuba, spoke about the current situation in Cuba and called for the solidarity from the people and governments of Latin America in demanding that the Cuban government fulfill its pledge in the Viña del Mar accords.

In the second session, Manuel Espino, president of Mexico’s ruling National Action Party, Otto Guevara Arreche, a former presidential candidate from Costa Rica’s Libertarian Movement, and Facundo Guardado, a former Commander of El Salvador’s Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front echoed this call, as well as rejected the process of succession being imposed on the Cuban people and offered assistance for a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba.

In the third session, Albania’s former president Rexhep Mediani, and parliamentarians Lazlo Nagy of Slovakia and Arnold Vaatz of Germany (member of ICDC) related their own experiences with transitions from totalitarian regimes to democratic governments. They drew parallels between their experiences and what may happen in Cuba. In a message of hope, they emphasized that they had also heard voices who said it was impossible to defeat totalitarianism, only to have been vindicated by its defeat at the hands of the people.

In the fourth session, Alvaro Dubón Alvarez, Guatemalan deputy to the Central American Parliament, parliamentarian Patricio Walker of Chile’s Christian Democrat Party, and Uruguayan parliamentarians Jose Amorin of the Colorado Party and Jaime Trobo of the National Party proposed political action at the legislative level to support freedom and democracy in Latin America, particularly in Cuba.

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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.