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By Sylvia Iriondo

Presentation by Sylvia G. Iriondo President of Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. por Cuba) Member of the Secretariat of The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance Community of Democracies’ “Bene Merito” Award Event Warsaw, Poland January 31, 2012

Your Excellency Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, a country we hold dear to our hearts for its heroic struggle against communist rule and its steadfast support towards the cause of a free Cuba; representatives of the Governing Council and Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies; distinguished guests:


My name is Sylvia Iriondo. I was born in Cuba and found political refuge as an exile in the United States fleeing communist oppression.  As president of Mothers & Women Against Repression (M.A.R. por Cuba) and member of the Secretariat of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, I thank you for allowing the Cuban people –my people- to have a voice in this world gathering of the community of democracies.

For over half a century, violence has been systematically used by the Castros’ dictatorship to silence our voices. However, they have been unable to do so.

The voices of Cuban patriots executed by firing squads for their resistance to totalitarian rule said: “I choose democracy”.


The political prisoners on hunger strikes which deaths were induced by the communist regime –from Pedro Luis Boitel in 1972 and others before him, to Wilman Villar Mendoza in 2012- said:  “I choose democracy”.


Human rights’ activists such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Wilfredo Soto García and Laura Pollán, leader of “the Ladies in White”, all of whom died recently under “strange” and terrible circumstances, making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, said: “I choose democracy”.


The “Ladies in White/Women of the Resistance” –wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of Cuban political prisoners- who courageously took their peaceful struggle to the streets of the island, repeatedly say: “I choose democracy”.


The hundreds of men and women who protested across the island on January 24 of this year, proclaimed the same message: “i choose democracy”.


More than five decades of sustained resistance by the Cuban people clearly demonstrates that our people “choose democracy”.


I come here today to ask you –this Community of Democracies- based upon the resolution adopted at its parliamentary forum in  Vilnius last summer, to spearhead in the European Union and the Council of Europe the need to recognize the Cuban Resistance as legitimate representatives of the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people; to encourage embassies and diplomats in Havana to regularly meet with pro-democracy activists; to invite these men and women to their national events at their countries’ embassies; to provide material support as well as parliamentary and public venues where their voices may be heard; to demand the unconditional liberation of all Cuban political prisoners and to be prepared for that crucial moment in history when a decisive choice needs to be made in order to help the Cuban people consolidate democratic change. 

If we choose democracy for ourselves, we must defend it and stand with those that struggle to attain it. As brutal repression against the Cuban people increases, so it does the numbers and strength of the resistance movement. 

While the Cuban nation forges ahead into its democratic future, may the road traveled be forever imprinted with the footprints of our martyrs and the peoples of the community of democracies who rightly stood by us and chose to walk with us on our final steps to freedom.


Thank you.


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