DECLARATION OF SANTIAGO
DECLARATION OF SANTIAGO
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- The Cuban people live in very difficult
times. However, this is not news. For more than fifty years we have
witnessed increasing poverty and the ongoing violation of our human rights.
We have watched with sadness and outrage as our cities have become a
heap of dust, destitute people, and discrimination. Instead of
confronting these crises with meaningful change, the Castros blame
others and make promises which are never fulfilled, and the Cuban people
have no mechanism to hold them accountable for these failures. The
regime treats Cuban citizens like children, attempting to control all
aspects of Cuban life. They tell us how to do business, how to think,
how to act. They have created a system that spreads doubt and division
among us, weakening our unity, pitting Cuban against Cuban, benefiting
some at the expense of others. The socialist economic model has stifled
generations of Cuban creativity and productivity, resulting in decay and
destitution. We deserve and demand better.
Concilio Cubano is a forum that proposes to bring together all of the
opposition groups that peacefully oppose the current regime. We intend
to give the people of Santiago de Cuba, and eventually all of Cuba, a
comprehensive program with viable proposals on political, economic, and
social issues. These proposals will help us to exit the crisis to which
the current regime has brought us; a regime that, despite fifty years in
power now asks us for more sacrifices and more budget cuts, and intends
to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers.
We have gained consciousness of our current situation. We will not
continue to remain silent. We want solutions, and we say enough to the
speeches and empty formalities.
We need a government that represents the whole population of Cuba in its
diversity: political, ethnic, religious, sexual preferences, and other.
We want the creation of institutions and laws consistent with that
We need a government whose primary interest is to respect freedom and
equality, including] the free expression of thought, freedom of
association, and economic freedom.
We deserve a government that is accountable to the people of Cuba.
In the economic realm, the industries and commerce are in ruins. The
economic system has been dominated by state control, stifled by
bureaucracy, and crippled by a lack of competition. To address our
economic crisis], the current regime proposes the "actualization of the
socialist economic model." However, what this really means is the
continuation of economic failure. In the new economic reform guidelines,
one can recognize once again that the economic policy of the communist
regime will be the same in its essence: foreigners will be the only
people who will be allowed to open big businesses in conjunction with
the regime. The Cuban people only get the crumb of self-employment
activities. We will not have the right to increase or better our
participation in the economy of our country.
The regime also proposes taxes that are excessive and absurd. Previous
experiences indicate that increasing taxes dispirits the consumer and
inhibits productive activity. For this reason, the solution is not in
creating new taxes; it is in reducing existing taxes to promote the
creativity and productivity of the Cuban people.
The regime has failed to meet the needs of working people. The workers
who were recently laid off do not have the necessary resources to stay
afloat in self-employment. It is truthfully inhumane to lay off a worker
after decades of having paid him/her a miserable salary that does not
add up to enough savings, without first ensuring that the person has
access to bank loans. We are ashamed to see that the Center for Cuban
Workers (CTC) and its top representative, Mr. Salvador Valdes Mesa, has
supported the directives of Raul Castro and left the workers in a total
state of helplessness.
We are weary of public works projects that never yield any benefit to
the people. Our streets have been destroyed again and again in the name
of supposed infrastructure programs that are never completed, due to
official indecisiveness and negligence. The so-called "work of the
century," will not be called that for its quality but because it will
last a hundred years before its completion.
To promote greater economic freedom and opportunity, Concilio Cubano
proposes the following:
1. Grant full legal recognition to the Cuban people's rights to private
property. These rights include: the right of homeowners to sell their
homes; [the right to buy or rent housing freely; the right to freely
make a will; and the right to inherit.]
2. [Reform the tax code to promote productivity by reducing overall tax
rates and creating tax incentives for workers and business owners.]
3. Provide increasing economic opportunity for citizens under 35 and
employment opportunities for the disabled. Provide skills education for
workers of all ages who need to adjust to a new economy.
4. Permit all citizens born in Cuba to be investors in medium and large
companies whether or not they reside in the country or outside it. In
other words, enable the decentralization of the economic activity of the
country, which is currently in the hands of the totalitarian state. It
is necessary to put this activity into the hands of Cuban citizens.
5. Facilitate the granting of credit to all those who need it to start
6. Make possible the mixed association of foreign citizens and Cuban
citizens within companies.
7. Create a transparent and accountable government agency to oversee
public works projects.
Political and Legal
In the political realm, one sees an increase in human rights violations
including: the persecution and harassment of those who think differently
than the regime; the dispossession of goods without any judicial order;
arbitrary detentions; denial of rights of free speech and association,
freedom of the press and media, and freedom of access to information;
refusal to allow Cuban citizens to travel freely within Cuba and to and
from foreign destinations; and interference with freedom of religion.
These abuses are made possible by the lack of government accountability
to the people of Cuba. There are no free and fair elections in which
citizens can hold their officials accountable for their behavior.
Political parties are denied the freedom to challenge abuses by the PCC.
The lack of such accountability mechanisms leads to widespread
government corruption. The court system is unable to provide a check
against government abuses because it lacks the necessary independence.
As a result, the Cuban people suffer from arbitrary tyranny and a
failure of the rule of law.
[To promote a transparent and accountable government that respects the
rights of citizens, Concilio Cubano proposes the following:]
1. [Recognize and enforce the human rights of all Cuban citizens,
including the rights to freedom of speech, expression, and association;
the right to private property; the right to freedom of religion; the
right to a free press and access to information; and the right to free
2. Eliminate all restrictions that prevent Cuban citizens from freely
entering or leaving the country. Repeal Decree No. 217 from April 22,
1997, which prevents the free movement of citizens, mainly into the city
3. Repeal Law 88, which criminalizes basic rights of association and
access to information, and eliminate the law of social dangerousness. No
one should be punished for exercising basic political and personal rights.
4. Modify the Criminal Procedure Code to guarantee the rights of the
accused person and the fairness of the criminal justice process.
5. Make these rights meaningful by: joining the American Convention on
Human Rights and accepting the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court
of Human Rights to hear cases of human rights violations in Cuba;
creating an independent human rights commission with the power to
investigate and address human rights abuses; and making the structural
changes in #6 below that will enable citizens to effectively enforce
their rights within the Cuban legal system.
6. Restructure the government to provide transparency, accountability,
and the rule of law. In particular: allow a wide range of political
parties to organize, speak, campaign, and contest elections; hold free
and fair elections; create an independent anti-corruption mechanism with
open and transparent procedures; provide by law for the independence of
the judiciary; provide by law for the independence of the parliament
from the executive branch, and give the parliament sufficient power to
act as a check on the executive.
Social and Cultural
The fabric of Cuban society has been frayed by more than fifty years of
dictatorship. Cuban people have lived under a system in which they must
often break the rules to survive. This experience has undermined respect
for law and encouraged dependence. The regime coerces citizens into
spying on each other and reporting on each other. It uses networks of
informants to generate a massive system of surveillance which undermines
Under the Castros, Cuban society has experienced the breakdown of basic
social institutions, including regression in education, culture, health
care and technology. In all these areas, the regime expects
professionals to act as arms of the state, and refuses to allow them the
independence necessary to establish relationships of trust with those
they serve. Education has suffered. The system is designed to
indoctrinate, not to educate. Maestros emergentes, or fast-track teacher
syoung and inexperienced teachers who have been trained in a speedy
process to cope with the loss of educated teachers leaving for better
paying jobs], are failing our students and parents.
The service in hospitals is poor; young doctors often receive inadequate
training; there is insufficient confidentiality in the doctor-patient
relationship; on many occasions medicines are not found; and our
physicians are sent to complete international missions to the detriment
of the inhabitants of the provinces who need medical attention. People
with HIV are incarcerated in quarantine centers as though they were
criminals instead of respecting their human rights.
In our streets, we see the consequences of such social deterioration.
Violence in our streets has considerably increased and we see with
sadness how continuous assaults are produced, adding to the insecurity
to our citizens.
The widespread use of alcohol contributes to the increase in violence.
Citizens who are struggling to survive and have little hope for their
futures turn to violence against each other. This situation contributes
further to the breakdown of social ties.
Our cultural life has been stifled by the Castros. The regime dominates
all creative and artistic expression. Artists are forced to represent
the regime's point of view. The Castro regime has restricted peoples'
access to technology in order to isolate them from the world, and it has
selectively blocked websites representing dissident points of view.
To rebuild the social and cultural realms, Concilio Cubano proposes the
1. Disband all watchdog systems of surveillance.
2. Reform the educational system to provide well-trained teachers, a
focus on critical-thinking skills, and] the autonomy of educational
institutions, particularly colleges and universities.
3. Reform the health care system to provide well-trained health
professionals; increase access to medicines and supplies in general;
increase access to health care in the provinces in particular; and
protect the independence of medical professionals.
4. Eliminate the quarantine system for people with HIV.
5. Create public health intervention programs to address the needs of
the homeless, and those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.
*6. Allow the development, and support the flourishing, of independent
artistic and creative enterprises.
7. Increase the Cuban people's free access to technology and internet
8. Protect the equal rights of all Cuban citizens – regardless of race,
religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation – to marry, to
have or adopt children, and to enjoy the benefits of family and private
With the support of our people, the strength of our political program
and our method of peaceful struggle, the time has arrived to demand
change. Concilio Cubano forms part of the peaceful opposition that
presents a viable alternative program. We represent the just demands of
the people of Santiago de Cuba and eventually the Cuban people. We speak
for this noble endeavor to all Cubans, not only to our friends, but also
to those who colluded with injustice in the past but now hope for a
future of freedom and prosperity.
We believe that all Cubans, regardless of their past allegiances, should
now come together to build a better future for our country. Because of
our activities and our ongoing claim for our rights, we have been the
victims of the biggest campaign of slander and repression that has ever
been received by an opposition movement in contemporary history. This
experience of repression has taught us that] the most important resource
we have with which to speak is the truth. We aim to give a message of
hope to our people: to the young who have lost their hopes, to the
parents who have cried for the death of a son who attempted to find a
future in another country, to the seniors who after many years of work
receive a pension that does not afford them enough to eat, to the
divided families who have missed their loved ones for years. To all
those who have lost their faith: we present our Declaration, promising
to continue our struggle for you.
Santiago de Cuba, January 14, 2011.
If you wish to contact us to discuss this Declaration or to report any
denunciation that has to do with the violation of your rights, you may
do so below by the following signatures:
1 – Ernesto Vera Rodríguez. Lawyer Manager of the Eastern Provinces for
Concilio Cubano. Vecino de José Antonio Saco # 1255 entre 6 y 7 Reparto
Santa Bárbara, Santiago de Cuba. Teléfono 646333.
2 – Raudel Ávila Lozada. Confederation of Workers of National
Independent of Cuba (CONIC) and member of the Political Commission of
Concilio Cubano. Vecino de Callamo # 618 entre Céspedes y Primero de
Mayo, Palma Soriano.
3 – Tania Montoya Vázquez. Municpals of Opposition of Palma Soriano.
Vecina de carretera de San Luis # 13 Reparto La Concepción, Palma Soriano.
4 – Rodis Mustelier Caignet. President of the National Board of
Democratic Transition. Vecino de Carretera de Siboney km 12, Las Guásimas.
5 – Pedro Antonio Alonso. Promoter of the Municpals of opposition and
President of the Political Commission and Human Rights of Concilio
Cubano. Teléfono 631487.
6 – Lázaro Rosales Rojas. Coordinator of the Liberal Unity of Santiago
de Cuba. Vecino de Paco Cabrera # 6B e/ Edel Mora Y Final, Reparto
Timbales, municipio Contramaestre.
7 – Idalmis Núñez Reynosa. Delegate of the FLAMUR and President of the
Economic Commission of Concilio Cubano in Santiago de Cuba. Teléfono 674510.
8 – Eunice Madaula Fernández. Executive Director of the CEEDPA "José
Ignacio García Hamilton". Teléfono: 653115 y vecina de Pedro Alvarado #
19 entre 8 y 10 Reparto Terrazas.
9 – Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía. Political former prisoner. Vecino
de Calle E # 74 entre B y D. Reparto Chicharrones, Santiago de Cuba.
10 – Carlos Alberto Reyes Casanova. Municpals of Opposition of Palma
Soriano and activist of Political Party of CID. Vecino de Villuendas #
258 entre Avenida de la Libertad y Remus, Palma Soriano.