[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Payá and Cuban Consensus (Take 2)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Payá and Cuban Consensus (Take 2)

(This is my second try to publish this post. I've been having problems with Blogger).

While this past weekend's Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba can be ruled as a success, it didn't come without some disappointments. I'm not talking about those Cubans who couldn't attend the Assembly because of incarcerations. I'm not talking about the foreign delegates who were detained and sent back home by Cuban authorities.

I'm talking about one person in particular who did not attend: Oswaldo Payá.

Oswaldo Payá, founder of the Varela Project. Cuba's best-known dissident leader. Recipient of the European Parliament's 2002 Sakharov Award for Human Rights. Warmly greeted in Miami during a visit in 2003.

Why wasn't he at the Assembly? He wasn't invited due to his long-standing ideological differences with the Assembly's organizer, Martha Beatriz Roque. Payá denounced the meeting as being funded by right-wing exiles in the U.S., and even insinuated that the castro regime had a hand in the organizing of the Assembly.

It's not wrong or even bad to disagree with someone who seeks the same solution to a problem, but what Payá is doing and saying threatens to undermine the fledgling dissident movement in Cuba. Other dissident leaders in Cuba that weren't invited to the Assembly at least had the presence of mind to compliment its success.

From an AP story published in today's Miami Herald:

"To not impede the celebration of this assembly is a step toward rationality, which should be encouraged among all those committed to Cuba,'' said Manuel Cuesta Morúa, spokesman for the dissident group Arco Progresista."

Cuesta did not attend the meeting due to his ideological differences with organizers.

I ask myself: Why would Payá at least not support a meeting of fellow dissidents? Why does it bother him that the event was partially supported and funded by exiles? And where does he get the connection between organizers and the regime? All good questions, and ones that can be answered in many different ways. Is Payá himself working with the regime? I don't think so. I certainly hope not.

All this came to mind today when I read an article in El Nuevo Herald from Nicolas Perez titled "Cuban Consensus: Agreeing to Disagree". It's fairly long and I don't have the time to translate the entire piece. The main theme is the Cubans' historical inability to come together for a common cause, mainly due to the disagreements which could not be set aside for the common good. Perez goes on to say that when Cubans finally believed in something, they went towards the worst possible solution - fidel castro.

If Payá, and all Cubans in the country and in exile, can take something from all this, it's that it's OK to disagree on details as long as the overall mission serves the common good. It's called democracy.


Blogger Songuacassal said...

Robert, I'm glad you mentioned this bro., because Paya me estaba picando.

And I like your conclusion. After all, maybe this is going to be the post-fidel challenge: how to have a separate but equal country, where difference of opinion is okay so long as the goal is common (like the good of Cuba.) It must be hard to think out of the box in Cuba when for so long that box has been fidel.

1:35 AM, May 28, 2005  

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