The following letter (my translation) was sent to Peru’s Foreign Relations Minister by Cuban opposition leader and Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy president, Rosa Maria Paya. A copy of the letter is available HERE.
We send you greetings as members of the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy and delegates to the Civil Society Summit to be held in the city of Lima at the 8th Summit of the Americas. We represent young people from Latin America and the Caribbean living in twenty countries throughout the region committed to peacefully defend democracy and its institutions. Our cause does not adhere to a political party and that is why our members hold different ideologies throughout the political spectrum. Except, however, extremist ideologies promoting hate, the imposition of some over others, and those which lack respect for the universality of human rights
We want to congratulate Peru for its role as host to the 8th Summit. At the same time, we have an urgent obligation to warn you of the grave danger posed by the interference being carried out by agents of the Castro dictatorship in the normal development of this event. We remember what took place during the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama, where shock troops sent by the Castro regime and directed at that moment by Abel Prieto, the dictatorship’s current Minister of Culture, viciously attacked and beat up civil society members formally accredited by the Summit. Unfortunately, the neighborhood bully attitude of the Castro delegation was tolerated by the authorities in Panama and that impunity brought about consequences; official workshops of the Civil Society summit had to be canceled and several delegates from different countries were beaten upon arriving at events in other parts of the city. Among them: Chileans, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Venezuelans, and Cubans, all members of independent civil society. Three years later, the Cuban regime’s objective remains the same: Stopping the fulfillment of the Civil Society Summit because a dictatorship cannot tolerate sharing a space of dialogue with those who peacefully oppose their repressive acts and dare to express that opposition. The most recent protests by officials provides ample evidence for this.
For weeks now, aggression by the Cuban regime against Summit organizers, members of our network, and delegates of Cuba’s independent civil society has been growing. The most public of them took place on Peruvian soil during the Hemispheric Dialogue when an ambassador from the regime went after Jorge Vallejo, the Peruvian representative acting as spokesperson for the 26 coalition and the director of our network. Days later, this message appeared on the official Twitter account of a Castro ministry: “You have been warned: At the Summit of the Americas, Cuba will not allow insults, disrespect, or provocations, which will always receive a corresponding reply.” At the same time, the very first point in the official declaration by the Castro delegation openly rejects our presence at the Summit. As defenders of democracy and as Latin Americans, we are witnesses of not only the suffering of the Cuban people, but also the decisive role Castro regime interference has played in the deterioration of democracy in places such as Venezuela and others. We welcome the exclusion of representatives of the Venezuelan dictatorship. Furthermore, we call attention to the dangerous error and incoherence behind the invitation extended to representatives of the Cuban dictatorship.
As citizens of the Americas and accredited delegates of the Civil Society Summit, we hope Peruvian authorities are able to guarantee the safety of the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy members, all persons registered with all other coalitions, 1 through 26, as well as independent civil society delegates from Cuba and Venezuela during our stay in your country for the 8th Summit of the Americas. In light of all the threats and aggression carried out by Castro institutions and media, we feel obligated to hold responsible the government of Cuba and Peruvian authorities for the physical safety of all our members.
We will be attending the civil society meetings as we have done at all the General Assemblies since 2015. We have the honor of being the organization with the most national discussions carried out for two consecutive years. This year, covering the topics of democratic governance and the fight against corruption, a scourge we condemn equally in democratic as well as authoritarian governments.
The young men and women of our organization will not be controlled through fear. We will continue the peaceful struggle against dictatorships from one end of our region to the other. We do not accept being victims of extortion. We know that Cuba is not the Castros and that Cubans, just like Venezuelans, just like Nicaraguans, just like Bolivians, deserve our solidarity and the solidarity of all democratic governments in the Americas.
The Executive Board, in name of the participants from the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy,
Rosa María Payá Acevedo
Jatzel Roman González