Cuban dissident receives award, vows not to abandon prisoners of conscience


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Havana, Cuba, Jun 30, 2009 / 08:13 pm (CNA).- The coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, Oswaldo Paya, said last week the organization would continue promoting the Varela Project for peaceful democratization in Cuba, because to do otherwise would be to abandon those Cubans who have been imprisoned for reasons of conscience.

"No tyrannical power, nor group of powers, can make us abandon this path. To do so would be to forget José Daniel and all our brothers and sisters in prison. To do so would be to forget our own people who are now without freedom, and we will not forget them, like the Hebrew people in captivity never forgot Jerusalem," Paya said in a letter accepting the National Endowment for Democracy's 2009 Democracy Award.

In his letter Paya expressed gratitude for the recognition of the courage and commitment of Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez), José Daniel Ferrer García, Librado Linares García, Iván Hernández Carrillo and Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, all detained "for peacefully defending an promoting the rights of Cubans."

"They were convicted on false charges, accused of threatening our national independence -- when they and we dedicate our lives to fight for sovereignty and national independence, but with the conviction that, to be real, sovereignty and national independence are inseparable from freedom and from the rights of all citizens," Paya stated.

He went on to denounce the many other regimes that "establish and then sustain themselves in the name of defending the sovereignty of the people." "Meanwhile," Paya said, "they take away their citizens' freedom; they silence them, and leave them without a voice and without a real opportunity to exercise their sovereign right to determine their own destiny."

He criticized the Cuban government, "and others with power outside of Cuba," for their desire "to silence and discredit this campaign for the rights of all Cubans. But we continue - and will continue forward - because Cubans should be and deserve to be free, as with all the people of the world."

"If you wish to support our people," Paya told the international community, "support with your voice and with your heart the path of peace and reconciliation that leads us unmistakably to freedom and to the rights that we Cubans want for ourselves."