Statement from Rosa María Payá at the Summit of the Americas
Panama, 10 April 2015
I would like to thank everyone for their willingness to dialog. We came willing to dialog. We wanted to listen to our Cuban brothers and sisters, who we know are in the same condition as ourselves.
I want to ask forgiveness from everyone in the name of the Cuban people for what just happened in the conference hall. Despite what you saw, we Cubans are a generous and caring people. Even those people who were there were also deprived of their rights. They also cannot decide. And probably did not decide to be there. These are the aberrations that occur when you live in a dictatorship.
My father, who was killed in an attack from the Cuban government just over two years ago, said that rights have no political color. Nor do dictatorships have a political color. And we are here today wanting to promote solutions to a problem that is no longer only Cuban, nor only Venezuelan. It is a regional problem, like that we just had here. Because we have all been affected by an intolerance that we do not share.
There are two points I would like to put forward.
The first is affecting us in several countries in the region: it is the issue of impunity. We see young people disappearing in Mexico. We see prosecutors who die the day before they present their evidence. We see children murdered on the streets of Caracas. My best friend and my father were murdered in an attack two and a half years ago, and we don’t even have an autopsy report. We know it is also an issue in Nicaragua and in Guatemala. I would like to settle our point in favor of stopping the impunity and calling attention to the political leadership of Latin America to stop this impunity and take impartial measures.
My second point perhaps could be understood as very particular, because it has to do with Cuba. But from Cuba there has been a marked interference (as there has been from other countries, such as the United States, but I am Cuban) and we have to stop the interference that in some places in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, the Cuba government is engaging in right now.
My point is in favor of the right of Cubans to decide. Cubans have not decided in free and plural elections for more than 60 years. We are asking for support for the right of Cubans to decide in a plebiscite.
In two days time, a general will arrive here to converse with the presidents of Latin America: a person who has never been chosen by the people. We also want to hear him, but we want the people to be listened to. So we ask for your support for a plebiscite in Cuba and that Cubans be asked if they want free and plural elections, if they want the recognition of political parties, if they want access to the media. If they want this process in impartial conditions.
To support the right to decide of Cubans is also to support the right to decide, the right to development and democracy for the entire region.
Rosa María Payá Acevedo
Video in Spanish