“Otro18” Elections Project Presented in Madrid

“Otro18” Elections Project Presented in Madrid / 14ymedio
Posted on April 2, 2016

14ymedio, Madrid, 31 Mach 2016 – Like “a small crack in the Cuban
political system” from which an opening coming. Thus did the attorney
and activist Rolando Ferrer define the Otro18 (Another 2018) project
during a meeting with journalists this Thursday at the Madrid Press
Association. Four of the promoters of this process travelled from the
island to present in Spain this initiative that promotes reforms in laws
addressing elections, association, political parties and others.

Opponents are seeking, with their proposals, to influence a democratic
opening that would take effect in Cuban with the elections to be held in
2018. This was emphasized by Ferrer, a member of the Anti-totalitarian
Forum (FANTU), as well as by historian Boris Gonzales, Patriotic Union
of Cuba (UNPACU) activist Yusmila Reyna, and opposition leader Manuel
Cuesta Morua. All of the participated in the press conference this
morning, accompanied by the exiled journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner.

With the support of 45 independent organizations inside and outside of
Cuba, the initiative demands that the international community follow the
situation on the island. “The process of reforms initiated in Cuba
should address not only the economic, trade and investment sector, but
also the political sector,” Cuesta Morua declared this Thursday.

“We have included a candidate’s right to campaign,” declared Ferrer, in
response to a question from 14ymedio about a possible reform that would
allow candidate to campaign for votes. “We want to facilities the
candidates having a work plan, proposals that they could take to the
citizens, and we also want to insert independent candidates,” he added.

“Currently in Cuba the only access the voter has is to the candidates’
biographies, through their past, and this is not a program,” added Boris
Gonzalez. To publicize the proposal among Cubans, Cuesta Morua believes
that they have to try to reach the citizenry, so it will be perceived as
a citizens’ initiative.

The proposed electoral reform, Reyna noted, “was already presented to
the National Assembly” and now they are awaiting a response. Right now
they are “training independent candidates, who are nothing more than
social activists who have a certain popularity and recognition, in
addition to the slanderous campaign that the government has undertaken
against them,” he added.

“The Spanish transition [from dictatorship to democracy] was a process
that favored going from the law to the law,” said Cuesta Morua, who has
asked for Spain’s involvement in the process. Spain “has supported the
process of the restoration of democracy in Venezuela and could do the
same with Cuba,” he added. The European Union “in its political dialogue
with the Cuban authorities should ask that they respect the will of
thousands of citizens who are demanding free, fair, democratic,
competitive and internationally observed elections.”

Cuesta Morua, the leader of the “Progressive Arc”, has stated that “this
is a political proposal” and a “a project directed to the citizenry,”
and he distanced himself from the process of electoral changes “made to
order by the power,” which the government is pushing. The promoters of
Otro18 are seeking that it be possible that “citizens can choose not
only vote,” he said.

The opponents also stressed that the three strategic demands of the
project are the demands for “an independent national electoral
commission; that citizens can choose without the mediation of the
national commission nomination; and at the same time that the President
of the Republic is directly elected.”

The management group of the project is currently made up of the
Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID),
United Anti-totalitarian Forum (FANTU), Cuban Youth Roundtable (MDJC),
Progressive Arc Party, Citizens Committee for Racial Integration, Center
for Support of the Transition, and the Cuban Law Association, but its
promoters say they are open to the “incorporation of other civil society
organizations and independent actors.”

Cuesta Morua insisted that this is a political process, not one more a
Latin American revolution, and it is intended to allow the citizenry to
assume their rights and choose who will be their representatives.

The opponents did not shirk the thorny issue of the unity of the
opposition and organizations that have not joined the Otro18 project,
such as the Christian Liberation Movement and the Ladies in
White. Cuesta Morua said that “the perception of disunity no longer
represents the current reality of how the opposition is organized in
Cuba” and called the present time a “mature stage.”

“Today more than yesterday, the opposition is working together,
coinciding in many respects and has put any irreconcilable differences
in the past to work on concrete proposals for democratic change,” said
Cuesta Morua.

The opposition denounced pressures, “threats and the confiscation of
working tools” against the promoters of the initiative and cited the
arrests that occurred around the first Forum of the initiative, held in
early March at the home of an activist in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana.

Source: “Otro18” Elections Project Presented in Madrid / 14ymedio |
Translating Cuba –

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