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Social Latin American personalities claim for opening in Cuba
September 2, 2009
Fifty social personalities from Latin America have just subscribe the Declaration in Support of Freedom of Association and Speech in Cuba, taking into account that “the recent decision of OAS to leave without effect the suspension of Cuba is a chance to ask the government of that country to give way to the guaranties of a democratic system and open the channels of expression of its people”. The signatures of the Declaration are headed by Patricio Aylwin, former President of Chile and Chairman of Corporación Justicia y Democracia.

The undersigned, members of Latin American civil society organizations, consider that the recent decision of OAS to leave without effect the suspension of Cuba is a chance to ask the government of that country to give way to the guaranties of a democratic system and open the channels of expression of its people. In this regard, a first step would be that the Cuban government recognizes freedom of association and speech, removing all the laws that restrict and suppress the exercise of these fundamental rights.

Individual freedom implies the faculty to do a series of activities for the achievement of ones own goals. It is part of the inherent rights of a person to associate with others to accomplish their objectives. The American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man, in its Article XXII includes the right of every person to associate with others to promote, exercise and protect their legitimate interests of political order; The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 20.1 refers to the right of every person to freedom of reunion and to associate peacefully; The American Convention on Human Rights, article 16.1, holds that every person has the right to associate freely with ideological, political, economic or any other end; and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 22.1, recognizes the right to freely associate with other people.

On the other hand, freedom of speech is one of the essential freedoms, on which many others depend. It is the first way a person has to communicate an idea, seek a peaceful political change, transmit information, and achieve agreements with other people. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in is article 19, specifies that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers; the American Convention on Human Rights, in its article 13, states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice”; and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 19, says that “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression”.

The validity of the right to freedom of association and speech in Cuba will allow for the legal existence of political parties, independent labor unions, civil society organizations and the possibility of a greater international cooperation. Freedom of association and the exercise of speech freedom, including independent journalism, will also help to develop a civil culture in Cuba, allowing for the possibility to access to analysis, information, opinions, and alternative reflections.

In conclusion, if the Cuban government decides to return to OAS, it would be auspicious that it did it respecting the minimum rules of democratic coexistence that all the member governments respect.

Patricio Aylwin (Chile), Patricia Álvarez (Ecuador), Carlos Bascuñán (Chile), Eduardo Bertoni (Argentina), Miguel Braun (Argentina), José Buendía Hegewisch (Mexico), Diego Camaño Viera (Uruguay), Antonio Camou (Argentina), José Cantero (Paraguay), Andrés Cañizalez (Venezuela), Daniel Coronell (Colombia), Miguel Darcy (Brazil), Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira (Brazil), Pepe Eliaschev (Argentina), Renán Estenssoro (Bolivia), Carlos Facal (Argentina), Sergio Fausto (Brasil), Nelson Fernández (Uruguay), Lourdes Flores (Peru), Claudia Guebel (Argentina), Fernando Iglesias (Argentina), Santiago Kovadloff (Argentina), Edison Lanza (Uruguay), Carlos Lauría (Argentina), Héctor Leis (Brazil), Hugo Machín (Uruguay), Jorge Maldonado (Chile), Daniel Muchnik (Argentina), Patricio Navia (Chile), María Ollier (Argentina), Vicente Palermo (Argentina), Antonio Pasquali (Venezuela), Alfonsina Peñaloza (Mexico), Romeo Pérez Antón (Uruguay), Darío Ramírez Salazar (Mexico), César Ricaurte (Ecuador), Silvia Rueda de Uranga (Argentina), Fernando Ruiz (Argentina), Roberto Saba (Argentina), Daniel Sabsay (Argentina), Gabriel C. Salvia (Argentina), Andrea Sanhueza (Chile), Ewald Scharfenberg (Venezuela), Paola Silva (Colombia), Heinz R. Sonntag (Venezuela), Marina Stadthagen Icaza (Nicaragua), Ricardo Uceda (Perú), Eduardo Ulibarri (Costa Rica), Jessica Valentini (Argentina) and Eduardo Viola (Brazil).