The undersigned, Latin Americans and diverse in our beliefs, professions and interests, but united by a common aspiration for freedom, democracy, equality and well-being throughout the hemisphere, we turn to our fellow citizens and governments, especially those in Cuba, to express the following:
We celebrate the growing process of normalization in Cuban-American relations and the willingness of other democratic governments to increase their interaction with the authorities in Havana. We see in this process an opportunity to encourage greater inclusion of Cuba in the world and improve the living conditions of its citizens.
At the same time, we condemn the ongoing systematic violation of human rights in the island; the persistence of a political model centered on the control by a single party; open repression against those who deviate from the official line, and continuing discrimination of Cubans to foreigners, in areas ranging from economic rights to freedom of access to communications and information.
It is time for an act of reciprocity with the democratic world, but above all, as an inescapable duty to their own people, the regime led by President Raul Castro should start a genuine process of political and social opening and listen to change initiatives of its citizens, while reactivating the timid economic changes announced with enthusiasm, but paralyzed amid rigidity, fear and bureaucracy.
The time for Cuba to open to its own people has come.
There is no justification for preventing Cubans from continuing to assert the rights and basic freedoms that belong to them, and which are widely recognized by universal human rights instruments. Many of them, paradoxically, have been signed by its government.
The road to full democracy must be taken without delay. Each new delay prolongs the precariousness and limitations of the people, hinders the chances of success and raises the risk of internal conflict. Therefore, it is time to start to open the way, by recognizing at least the following guarantees for all Cubans:
• Freedom of expression, understood as the right to seek, receive and send information, opinions and other content by any means without limitations, censorship or later repressions.
• Freedom of association, assembly and demonstration.
• Freedom of movement inside and outside the country.
• The right to petition the authorities and public authorities.
• The right to elect and to be elected, in an atmosphere of plurality, for all public offices.
• The right of not being arbitrarily arrested and detained, to have fair trials before independent courts and to have effective defense mechanisms.
• The right not to be discriminated against in education, employment or social areas because of political or religious beliefs, or for any other reason.
• The elimination of ideological control over education.
• The freedom to undertake professional, labor and business initiatives without restrictions, and that Cubans have at least the same opportunities offered as to foreign investors or traders. The virtual economic, but also social and political, apartheid that exists in the island against its citizens must go without delay.
None of these very basic rights, which are part of everyday life in the vast majority of our countries can be exercised in Cuba. Even worse. Those who dare to claim them are the subject of open repression and systematic marginalization.
In its World Report 2016, the NGO Human Rights Watch highlights and documents several cases that "in recent years have significantly increased the short-term arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders, independent journalists and others". Between January and October 2015, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation, declared illegal by the government, received more than 6,200 complaints of arbitrary arrests, which were exacerbated prior to the visit of Pope Francisco to the island in September of the same year.
The report also reveals the existence of a number of political prisoners difficult to determine due to the absence of reliable information; beatings and assaults against non-governmental street protesters, prison overcrowding; casuistic restrictions on travel within and outside of Cuban territory; the inability to form independent unions, and refusal to recognize the defense of human rights as a legitimate activity.
The sad conclusion is that, although the world and particularly the United States, has increasingly opened towards Cuba, the regime has not opened to its own people, which, with some exceptions of privilege, remains mired in insecurity, controls, lack of opportunities and political and social asphyxiation. We must dismantle this closure; and the political, economic and social embargo against the Cuban regime must be eliminated.
"Our America" which proclaimed the hero of Cuban independence José Martí as an ideal of Latin American unity, may not be reality while in Cuba persists an impermeable government to citizen’s rights, and its double face before the world.
In proclaiming these concerns, we express our desire that Cubans can build, in peace and freedom, a new democratic, peaceful and inclusive order.
OSCAR ARIAS (Costa Rica), former President and Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. LAURA CHINCHILLA (Costa Rica), former President. GRACIELA FERNÁNDEZ MEIJIDE (Argentina), she was Secretary of the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. JAIME MALAMUD GOTI (Argentina), jurist and one of the masterminds of the trial against the military juntas in Argentina. EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica), journalist and former ambassador at the UN. RICARDO GIL LAVEDRA (Argentina), jurist and politician, he joined the court in 1985 and sentenced against the military juntas of Argentina's dictatorship. BEATRIZ SARLO (Argentina), essayist and journalist. CARLOS H. ACUÑA (Argentina), political scientist, specialist in state and public policy, member of human rights organizations in Argentina since 1977. ROBERTO GARGARELLA (Argentina), jurist and sociologist, CONICET researcher and professor. JOSÉ MANUEL QUIJANO (Uruguay), economist and former director of the Sectoral Commission and the General Secretariat of Mercosur. SERGIO FAUSTO (Brazil), political scientist and Executive Superintendent of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Institute. ROBERTO AMPUERO (Chile), writer, columnist, former Minister of Culture and former ambassador in Cuba from 1974 to 1979. RODOLFO RODIL (Argentina), former vice president of the Chamber of Representatives. FACUNDO GUARDADO (El Salvador), former member of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and former presidential candidate. DANIEL SABSAY (Argentina), Professor of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Buenos Aires. LILIANA DE RIZ (Argentina), sociologist and superior researcher at CONICET. LUIS ALBERTO ROMERO (Argentina), historian, National Academy of History. MARÍA MATILDE OLLIER (Argentina), political scientist, professor and researcher. EDUARDO VIOLA (Brazil), professor of international relations at the University of Brasilia. HÉCTOR SCHAMIS (Argentina), political scientist, professor and researcher. ANÍBAL PÉREZ LIÑÁN (Argentina), political scientist, professor and researcher. VICENTE PALERMO (Argentina), sociologist, writer and researcher at CONICET. MARCOS NOVARO (Argentina), sociologist, writer and researcher at CONICET. ALEJANDRO KATZ (Argentina), essayist and editor. ROBERTO GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), diplomat and former Vice-foreign minister. FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina), diplomat and former Vice foreign minister. JORGE EDWARDS (Chile), writer and diplomat. OSVALDO GUARIGLIA (Argentina), philosopher and researcher at CONICET. MARÍA SÁENZ QUESADA (Argentina), historian, writer and former secretary of Culture of the City of Ciudad de Buenos Aires. LILIA PUIG (Argentina), Congresswoman in Parlasur and former national Congresswoman. JUAN OCTAVIO GAUNA (Argentina), jurist and politician, former National General Attorney and National Deputy. FERNANDO PEDROSA (Argentina), historian, professor and researcher. RAQUEL GAMUS (Venezuela), anthropologist, political scientist and journalist. PATRICIO NAVIA (Chile), Political scientist, professor and researcher. ADOLFO GARCÉ (Uruguay), Political scientist, professor and researcher. DANIEL MUCHNIK (Argentina), journalist, historian and writer. CARLOS GERVASONI (Argentina), Political scientist, professor and researcher. ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA (Cuba), Political scientist, professor and researcher. DANIEL PÉREZ (Argentina), designer and painter, published a testimony on the Cuban military intervention in Latin America during the 60s and 70s. JESSICA VALENTINI (Argentina), lawyer and former Ombudswoman in the city of Córdoba. SABRINA AJMECHET (Argentina), Sociologist, professor and researcher. JORGE ELÍAS (Argentina), journalist, writer and researcher. ALEJANDRO OROPEZA (Venezuela), political scientist, professor and researcher. FRANCISCO QUINTANA (Argentina), lawyer and legislator of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. LUIS GREGORICH (Argentina), journalist and writer. MANUEL MORA Y ARAUJO (Argentina), sociologist and consultant in communication and public opinion. MARTA VELARDE (Argentina), lawyer and former National Congresswoman CARLOS FACAL (Argentina), lawyer and former president of Poder Ciudadano Foundation. ANDRÉS CAÑIZÁLEZ (Venezuela), journalist, professor and researcher. EDUARDO AMADEO (Argentina), Congressman, diplomat, economist and former Minister of Social Development. GABRIEL PALUMBO (Argentina), sociologist, professor and researcher. CÉSAR RICAURTE (Ecuador), journalist and activist for freedom of speech and press. NICOLÁS JOSÉ ISOLA (Argentina), Doctor of Social Sciences and columnist in various media. ROMEO PÉREZ ANTÓN (Uruguay), political scientist, professor and researcher. IGNACIO LABAQUI (Argentina), political scientist, professor and researcher. ALEARDO LARÍA (Argentina), lawyer and journalist, political exile during the military dictatorship Argentina. ANTONIO CAMOU (Argentina), Sociologist, professor and researcher. JAVIER VALDEZ CÁRDENAS (Mexico), journalist. ALEJANDRO PÁEZ VARELA (Mexico), jornalist. ROLANDO RODRÍGUEZ (Panama), journalist. MARÍA SIRVENT (Mexico), Human Rights activist. JOSÉ RUBÉN ZAMORA (Guatemala), journalist. RAFAEL ROJAS (Cuba), historian, professor and researcher. LEANDRO QUERIDO (Argentina), political scientist, professor and head of the NGO Transparencia Electoral. FERNANDO RUIZ (Argentina), political scientist, professor and researcher. MARTÍN LANDI (Argentina), Master in International Relations and activist for freedom of expression. HUGO MACHÍN (Uruguay), Journalist and former political prisoner during the military dictatorship in Uruguay. ROGELIO ALANIZ (Argentina), journalist.