July 11th & the “Cuban Civil Society Manifesto”

One of the many protests of July 11, 2021

A document that expresses that “the Cuban nation extends beyond the archipelago to any part of the world where there is a Cuban who shares the same aspirations as their fellow compatriots.”

By Ariel Hidalgo  (Cubaencuentro)

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban Civil Society Manifesto, already has over 200 signatures, and is the political expression of the mass protests in Cuba on July 11th 2021.

It was founded with cries of freedom! and homeland and life!, which weren’t provoked by the wrongly called “imperialist blockade” or alleged conspiracies concocted in exile. Instead they were a spontaneous social uprising, with no organization, in dozens of cities across the country after news broke on social media of the mass protest by Havana residents in San Antonio de los Baños.

The causes were summed up in an agreement by civil society, open to signatures from every Cuban living in Cuba and abroad, as it rightly says that “the Cuban nation extends beyond the archipelago to any part of the world where there is a Cuban who shares the same aspirations as their fellow compatriots.”

These include residents in Cuba, the vice-president of the Committee for Democratic Transition in Cuba, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Sakharov Prize winner from the European Parliament, Guillermo (Coco) Fariñas, and prestigious Cubans from the Diaspora who have expressed the country’s longing for a dignified homeland at different times, either with song, speech, film or literature, including Willy Chirino and Pablo Milanes, actors and filmmakers Andy Garcia and Alexis Valdes, musician and composer Paquito D’Rivera, Democracy Movement founder and leader, Ramon Saul Sanchez, and renowned author and member of the Real Academia Española Manuel Diaz Martinez, who signed the La Carta de los Intelectuales in 1991.

Given the fact civil society is a “collective body made up by individuals in a society, that is outside the limits of the State,” and therefore, a group of individuals with a rainbow of diverse ideological stances, they can’t be boxed or defined by a certain doctrine.

It doesn’t propose programs of change, but rather goes to the root of the key problems that led to the mass protests: “the State’s centralization of the business sector,” with the main three powers – executive, legislative and judicial – “under the absolute control of a ruling elite that nobody elected,” a source of “incompetence and corruption of bureaucracy that has been dragging the population down a disastrous path for over six decades.”

On the other hand, mass violations of citizens’ basic rights, especially the Cuban people’s right to have a say in their future, mean they are demanding respect for every member of the community, as well as “profound and pressing change that will bring the country out of this unprecedented crisis and prevent Cubans clashing with tragic consequences.”

The Manifesto, which some people have called the 21st Century Manifesto of Montecristi, doesn’t ask for, but demands respect for all of these rights. It demands a stay for every sentence and prosecution of the many citizens imprisoned for defending or exercising these rights, especially those whose only crime was publicly protesting their longing and dreams for a better Cuba. “Public protests can’t be avoided with disproportionate violence and over-the-top sentences,” the Manifesto reads, “but by taking the steps needed to allow civil society to freely develop their artistic and productive endeavors.”

The Manifesto is still open to signatures from “renowned Cubans in different areas of Cuban civil society at different times, past or present,” and they can write their name, job, profession or activity and city or district and country where they currently live, either on the blog mentioned above at the beginning of this article or by sending it directly to: [email protected].

As Pablo Milanes said about the Manifesto, “it brings together the assumptions of what a movement could be without parties, trends, old and new arguments, which only lead to separation and incoherence of future achievements, that will only come about with all Cubans uniting.”

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