» Varela Project

Nomination of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
for the Nobel Peace Prize

The Directorio supports the Varela Project and Czech President Václav Havel's nomination of Cuban opposition activist Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas to the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Varela Project represents the means through which thousands of Cubans have been able to express their discontent with the totalitarian regime in Cuba, peacefully demand change, and perhaps most importantly, break through the fear that for so long have kept Cuban citizens from openly voicing their beliefs.

Likewise, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, a life-long human rights activist, would signify vital recognition to the men and women who make up the pro-democracy vanguard in Cuba. It would offer incontrovertible proof that there is a process of change taking place in Cuba, a process that the international community recognizes and honors.

The People in Need Foundation in the Czech Republic is leading a project to collect signatures in support of Payá Sardiñas' nomination. For more information, please visit
http://www.pinf.cz/english/ or http://www.nobelpaya.org.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was born on February 29, 1952, in Havana, the fifth of seven brothers. His family has long been an active part of the Catholic Church, and Oswaldo Payá grew up as a faithful Catholic, even after 1959, when the Cuban government began to repress the activities of the Catholic Church in Cuba severely. Payá never belonged to the Communist Youth, the Communist Party or the Communist youth organizations.

At the age of 16, he was drafted into the Army and was punished for refusing to participate in transporting a group of political prisoners from one prison to another. He was sent to the Isle of Pines to carry out forced labor for three years. Between 1987 and 1988, he founded the Christian Liberation Movement, a non-denominational opposition movement that has repeatedly called for profound political and economic changes in Cuban society. Although greatly persecuted, the Christian Liberation Movement has become one of Cuba's largest opposition forces. Payá's home has been attacked by mobs, and he has been arrested and imprisoned repeatedly. Payá currently steers a broad-based coalition of opposition organizations that have begun a signature drive for a national referendum for political and economic reform in the country that has already gathered more than 10,000 signatures. Payá is married, has three children, and is an engineer.

What is the Christian Liberation Movement?

It was founded in 1988, by a group of secular Catholics belonging to the Parish of Cerro, in the city of Havana. It is a movement with certain Christian inspiration, a political-civil movement, not confessional, in which Cubans with different religion's faith have become a part of it, that is, Catholics and Protestants, inclusive people that do not have any kind of religion, because this is not a religious movement, addressed only to religious people, the goal of this movement is to reunite all those citizens that are willing to help a nation by defending and promoting people's right and working toward a reconciliation and peaceful changes in our society.
The Christian Liberation Movement brings into existence its projects and develops them inspired in the evangelic values and the ideas of social Christian. It does not only reject violence as the method to fight, on the contrary it fights against it, carried out by the power itself or between citizens. The Movement constantly evokes freedom against violence, by not using it, nor encouraging it, by not submitting yourself in any way to violence or to act drawn by fear.

What's the purpose?

  • To get a Cuban's participation in the process of the changes needed in our society. Cubans are the doers, not only spectators of such reality. The solution to the problems of Cuba is a responsibility of all Cubans.
  • To start a civic road that would lead us in the accomplishment of changes and therefore be able to demand a respect of the Civil and Human Rights.
  • To promote the exercise of constitutional legal rights on behalf of citizens and a highly regard for the same on behalf of the Government and all official institutions.
  • A qualitative change of law within the law, FROM THE LAW TO THE LAW. That is through the demand from all citizens, amend the law and the constitution and be able to go forward peacefully, toward a society that supports itself within the right and solidarity, social justice and economic freedom.
  • The re-encounter again of our brothers from the Diaspora, an undividable part of our people.
  • The Christian Liberation Movement develops a private freedom project that consists of: the practice of freedom of speech, overcome fake and a two-side morale and a recovery of self-esteem and creation of a conscience toward your own dignity and to respect that same dignity in your fellow-being.

An urge to exercise the Human and Civil Rights and Solidarity amongst all Cubans.

What are we doing about it?

  • Demanding our legal rights. The Movement is not illegal, the problem is that is not recognized. It is the government who violates the law and Constitution by not recognizing our legal right to exist. We have presented to the Minister of the Department of Justice, by the laws of the Movement as well as all the pertinent documents required by the Corporate Law and we have not received a reply.
  • We have filed complaints before the government and the "Poder Popular" National Assembly, with a result of harassment and intimidation from regulating associations.
  • Some founders of the Movement, making use of their citizens' rights were nominated by voters from their respective municipalities, through signed petitions, as candidates to become members of the Council during recent elections. Said petitions were rejected in some of the cases and not even replied in most of the cases, by the corresponding authorities.
  • Recently, in December 1998, we brought before the offices of the "Poder Popular" National Assembly, a complaint to review and amend the Electoral Law, since the same was unconstitutional.
  • We have prepared an Interim Program, that will serve as a master document for a national dialogue that will accomplish the steps needed to change our society in all respect.
  • We are proposing for consideration of the society the VARELA PROJECT

The VARELA PROJECT introduces the first steps that should be given, amending the laws, to open the necessary spaces for a free and responsible participation of all citizens within a political and economic life of a society. In addition, it will guarantee freedom of speech and association, decree a political amnesty for the ones imprisoned due to political motives, amends the Electoral Law and determines the different period of times to hold new general elections.

The VARELA PROJECT clearly defines the amendments proposed to change the laws to guarantee the fundamental rights and be able to commence an economic opening for all Cubans.

THE VARELA PROJECT IS PROPOSED TO THE PEOPLE FOR CONSIDERATION THROUGH A REFERENDUM (art.88.g.) by the Constitution of the Nation that demands that at least 10,000 citizens support a legal initiative for the same to be considered. This implies that our campaign, as a citizen, to gather signatures, in support of a request for a Referendum about the VARELA PROJECT, is a constitutional right.

Members of the Christian Liberation Movement

To encourage all citizens

The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba grants the right of a citizen to present for consideration amendments into the laws.

What is the Varela Project?

We introduce to the people of Cuba the VARELA PROJECT

The project proposes amendments to some of the laws so to get this way a start toward the improvement of a society. The VARELA PROJECT wishes to process and help to become a law what are already determined as rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba and which are not being followed.

This project deals with the intention of opening spaces for a free and responsible participation of all citizens during a political and economic life in our society.

We recommend all citizens to support the petition for a Referendum so they, as a nation will decide about this first step of setting an opening. The Constitution of the Republic in article 88g gives the citizens the right to carry out this petition. We hope that the government will respect such right.

The VARELA PROJECT would convert into law, the right to freedom of speech, the freedom of communication media and the freedom of enterprise. Also a citizen's right to own enterprises, something that at present is a prerogative only for foreigners. It also proposes for consideration an amendment to the Electoral Law No. 72, since the same is unconstitutional. In addition there is a request of a political amnesty for political prisoners and new elections.

The VARELA PROJECT is a road for the Cuban people to walk through it with the truth and the right in solidarity and to see their hopes come true. Father Varela was the man who taught us to think as Cubans, he implanted the first seed in our minds for us to realize the right we have as people toward liberty and sovereign. That is the reason why this project bears his name.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Miguel Saludes García
Juan Antonio Rodríguez Avila
Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez
City of Havana, January 22, 1998

Varela Project Underlying Principles

The Constitution of the Republic guarantees all citizens the right to propose amendments for consideration in the juridical aspects and also offers the procedures and know-how to reach the same through a general consensus, the people decides in a democratic and sovereign manner about the amendments to be made and the contents of the same. This current value of the actual laws, that is, the opportunity of containing in itself the key to amend the law and be able to adjust the same to the needs and demands requested to make a better society, may be accomplished if the people that are legitimately capable of doing so, activate such a key.

This civic action proceeding is a binding through excellence amongst a general wish and the judicial and political structures of a society that practices democracy. The functioning of the binding is a sign of a peaceful and gradual capacity of evolution of a society, of its capacity to change and to go forward gradually in a harmonic and gradual development, through the enhancement of a quality of life.

That is why we propose to make changes within the law. The law itself is capable of becoming better in perfection and should be functioning to reach a common welfare with a complete recognition of the human being. But there exists different criterias about the changes needed in our society and within the political environment, socially, economical and inclusive opinions already found over the applicability of such changes or amendments.
The answer is not simple one and demands the good will and a responsible attitude of all Cubans.

Then, are really the changes necessary?

To solve this matter is essential. But a wise and fair answer can only be given a sovereign nation, with a general consensus, in other words, with a referendum.

But, why these questions, these proposals?

By answering these proposals the people gives to themselves the legal instruments to, through the exercise of their rights, practice solidarity and to comply with their duties by having a more full participation in the decisions that affects them, in determining the direction our Nation will take and by creating a better society.

With these foundations it is the nation itself who decides if there should be any changes or not, who will carry out the changes as player and subject of its own history.

We are not offering a project or a perfect model for a society, we are trying to present for consideration the first step to create new and better conditions to a right we all have. This way amongst all Cubans they believe and develop their own project of society according to their sovereign will, commencing with the spiritual values of our Nation and this experience in history and be able to confront the challenges raised by the arrival of the new millennium.
Signing this petition does not mean, in any way, to be in favor or to be associated with any enterprise or group and also does not determine any kind of compromise with the people who wrote it and present it for consideration. When a Cuban signs this petition for a general consensus is exercising one of the rights the present Constitution grants him to request a petition and contribute for a free and solidarity way to improve our society, to seek a solution to the problems our nation is having and to prepare a better future to our children, here, in our own country.

The five proposals are self-explanatory

These rights and all Human Rights existed before any one would declare them or write them, you and all your fellow man have these rights because they are human being, because they associate and express, defines the true and responsible way of a citizen within society. When in the petition is made clear that the law must guarantee these rights preserving the right to human dignity, to human rights and to common welfare, we are anticipating any wrongful fear against freedom of speech and free enterprise, since no one can exercise their rights by attempting against the human dignity and everybody else rights, including against a common welfare. At the same time no one can say it is actually defending the common welfare by declaring invalid the exercise of these rights, since a search for a common welfare implies working a way of life in society where people are able to completely fulfilled themselves, and this is impossible to a accomplish if the human rights are not guaranteed.
In addition of being a right, there is also the need of a society to have organizations that are independent, no matter if they are temporary or permanent, to be able to give citizens the opportunity to defend their interests, to form part of the State decisions and to contribute in every social aspect and contributing their efforts and initiatives in every field. The majority of votes is not imposed by an order or decree, but should be respected and guaranteed by law because it is a reality that not everybody thinks the same way over something in general or in particular and is a right one has, the fact of being able to interact and express your feelings, according to their ideas and interests, so no one with their own ideas or with any type of conditions can invalidate this right upon others. If law would guarantee free interaction and expression, it certainly will be closer to what the Constitution really represents, the right to express a diversity of actual opinions within the society would be acknowledged, more space for criticism will be opened, creativity would be enhanced, the dialogue, and democracy will become more interactive, the exercise of a general sovereign and therefore the foundations of a National Independence will get more powerful.

The existence in our country of political prisoners is a result from actions of individuals that act in disregard of the law, like power abuse, arbitrarities and also violation of the law by the authorities. Many have been detained because they practiced he Human Rights to which the present law is not recognized. This step is not a revision, is a step toward an improvement to society that is aware of this need. Reconciliation cannot be given by a decree but if it is desired by our nation and it is clearly stated in the Referendum, granting amnesty, would open, through this act of forgiveness and justice, a new era for a community that wishes so much to overcome everything that was negative in the past and give itself the opportunity of a new beginning. If the Cubans cannot reach an agreement concerning the past, we do need to be in agreement about the future so it can be one in peace, fraternity and freedom, for the welfare of our children.

With the approval of this petition we can reach a bigger participation of all citizens in the task of satisfying the needs for a property and service to the population, freeing the human capacity by working to upgrade the level and quality of life, the freedom of people and families and to contribute to the development of a nation.
The exercise of this right within the regulations of the law to seek a common welfare will be a determinant factor in the overcoming of insecurity and instability of the economic activity of the citizens and would eliminate in great scale the illegal expropriations and wrongful possessions of properties, stealing, the corruption of employees and officers, the privileges taken through an abuse of power, the parasitism, speculation and many causes with differences, until now not able to rescue them, between the worker that tries to survive with a salary and the one that through speculations or a position with a certain way of power and authority is living a life economically superior. This opening will be the reason to leave behind improductivity, the very expensive negligence, unemployment in all its forms and the poverty in which more and more Cubans sink in when they are out of options or with a very poor salary, with no real value at all. This poverty and the lack of options is one of the main causes for the desire of many Cubans to emigrate, a phenomena that brings so many disarrangement to the Cuban family. From here on the currency, and with it the salary of workers, would begin to grab its real value.
The satisfaction from the consuming needs of a nation and the control and democratic property by the workers of a production media, does not limit itself to a state property, which is one of, and not the only one, the ways of a social property. The long waiting lines due to the scarcity of things, inefficiency and precariously manner in which we have lived shows the need for an opening of the citizen's participation in the economic activity, in all matters and property. This opening has to guarantee the right to all Cubans to create private enterprises, either private property as well as a cooperative, as well as mixed enterprises between workers and the State. Will this be more difficult to accomplish as a right for Cubans and amongst Cubans, that what has already being given to foreign enterprises, the right, not only to participate but also to have, in some cases, the whole property of an enterprise, in the same way a law regulates the foreign investments?
Law will be able to harmonize the participation of citizens, in a responsible and creative manner, in the economic doing with a social orientation from a private enterprise, with certain respect toward the consumer, with humanization of the work done, with the guaranties of the worker's rights and with certain social security. This way the State could have a lot more resources to guarantee, without depending from foreign support, the free services of public health and education and any other type of social services and care and would give them, not as fatherly structure, but as the administrator of a common welfare, to which all citizens contribute, in a responsible manner, exercising their rights and practicing solidarity.

To be able to understand this proposal it is necessary to pay attention to the two key elements of the electoral process:

  1. The list of candidates or nomination of candidates, that is, the way it is determined who will be the citizens amongst which the voters will vote for as their representatives, either as delegates or as representatives.
  2. The elections. We recommend the study of the current Electoral Law if you do not remember their layouts and analyze this proposal before making a decision.

According to the current law, the candidates for Delegates before the Municipal Assemblies of the "Poder Popular", are nominated by casting votes at public assemblies by the voters of the corresponding district. Nonetheless, the candidates for Delegates before the Provincial Assemblies and the candidates for delegates before the National Assembly of the Poder Popular by nominations given by the corresponding Municipal Candidates, Commission; who at the same time receives proposals from the National and Provincial Candidates' Commission. The voters, according to the current law do not participate directly in the nomination of candidates to Delegates before the Provincial Assemblies, nor of the candidates for Representatives before the National Assembly of the Poder Popular and in addition, only one candidate is nominated for each position to be a Representative before the National Assembly of the Poder Popular. For example, if one municipality can have five representatives before the National Assembly of the Poder Popular in the election ballot will only appear five candidates and each voter can vote for one, for some, for none of them or for the five of them. The voters cannot elect their five representatives from a bigger number of candidates.

In the elections for Delegates before the Municipal Assembly, the voters of each district select their Delegate voting each voter for one candidate, the one who wishes to select amongst several that are candidates to represent said district.

In what consists the petition we are requesting?

Consists in that the Delegates before the Municipal Assembly, the candidates to Delegates before the Provincial and the candidates to Representatives before the National Assembly be nominated, that is be nominated and selected directly by the voters of the corresponding district through their signatures of support, without any intermediaries and solely in this manner.

That also several other candidates may exist for each of the Delegate's positions before the Provincial Assemblies and of Representatives before the National Assembly, so this way the voters of each district can have the option to select amongst several the one of their preference, a possibility that the current law does not offer. That the voters of each selected district select only their Delegate before the Municipal Assembly, their Delegate before the Provincial Assembly and their Representative before the National Assembly of the "Poder Popular" and only one in each case, in this way each individual being elected responds only before said voters, that is, to those he represents.

Within a respect toward order and in agreement with the voters, they amongst themselves and the nominated candidates, the candidates, the Delegates, the Representatives may associate and get together with the voters freely and without any kind of intermediaries or guardians, during democratic assemblies and also be able to use all communication's media, which is considered a state's property and, therefore, should be at the service of all citizens practicing a freedom of speech. With the approval of this petition we move forward into a Democratic Participation in one of its basic foundations; the citizen's participation by selecting their representatives and in the decisions of the different sections of the "Poder Popular".

Directorio Democrático Cubano
P.O. Box 110235
Hialeah, Florida 33011
Tel. 305-220-2713

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