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Christian group calls for free election amid protests in Cuba

Christian Liberation Movement demands the release of political prisoners and the annulment of repressive laws

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: July 12, 2021 10:23 AM GMT
Christian group calls for free election amid protests in Cuba

People take part in a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on July 11. (Photo: AFP)

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in Cuba has called on people to continue to pressure communist authorities to hold a general election.

The the country has seen protests in major cities joined by thousands of people to protest the unprecedented scarcity of essentials and the death toll caused by Covid-19.

On July 11, thousands of people took to the streets in a rare anti-government protest in Cuba where some demonstrators chanted “Down with the dictatorship.”

The protests erupted following social anger due to long food lines and a shortage of medicines amid a daily record of coronavirus infections and deaths.

Eduardo Cardet Concepcion, national coordinator of the MCL, said thousands of Cubans were demanding freedom and an end to repression and misery.

“The MCL, as part of this people tired of oppression and injustice, is fully identified with their desires. We support our brothers and sisters of the Christian Liberation Movement and all Cubans who demonstrate peacefully, making use of this legitimate right,” the group said in a statement.

Catholic dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas founded the MCL in 1988 to achieve peaceful democratic reform in Cuba

The statement demanded “the release of political prisoners, the annulment of the repressive laws against freedom, recognition of economic rights of free enterprise for Cubans, and recognition of each Cuban’s — inside and outside the island — right to vote and to be elected,” it said.

Catholic dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas founded the MCL in 1988 to achieve peaceful democratic reform in Cuba, explicitly inspired by the social doctrine of the Church.

Taking advantage of a loophole in the Communist constitution, Paya organized a collection of signatures to introduce democracy in Cuba. As a consequence, the movement was persecuted nationwide and 42 of its leaders ended up in prison during the 2003 wave of repression known as the “Cuban Spring.”

Paya and another MCL leader, Harold Cepero, were killed in a car accident in suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012.

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During a speech on television on July 11, Cuban President Miguel Diza-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, blamed the US for the unrest and called on “all the revolutionaries in the country, all communists, to take to the streets and go the places where these provocations are going to occur” to counter protests.

The MCL condemned violence from any side and criticized Diaz-Canel’s call for violence and confrontation among Cubans.

“No more sorrowful cries; it is time to react and tell the tyrants that their reign of terror and misery has come to an end. Only the people can save the people,” it said in its statement.

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