The Associated Press
1/6/03 8:00 PM
WASHINGTON (AP)– Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, who captained an island-wide pro-democracy petition drive last year, said Monday change in Cuba can come about only from within the country, not from outside forces.

Paya, speaking to reporters after a morning meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, said his campaign crossed an important threshold even though it did not bring out his objective of a national referendum to ensure the protection of human rights.
«The changes have begun, not in the structures of government but in the hearts of the Cuban people,» said Paya, speaking in Spanish.
He said he discussed the U.S. embargo against Cuba with Powell, affirming his view that he does not see that four-decade old measure as a «factor for change» on the island.
The Cuban people seek from the United States and other countries «solidarity and moral support,» Paya said.
«It’s important to de-Americanize the problems of Cuba,» he added. «We must bring change about through our own means.»
Paya came here to receive a human rights award from the National Democratic Institute, a government-supported pro-democracy grouping. The award was to be presented by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Monday night.
The Cuban government surprised Paya, 50, and his allies by allowing him to leave the country in December so that he could travel to France to receive the European Union’s top human rights award.
The day before his mid-December departure, his home was vandalized.
In May, Paya’s pro-democracy Varela Project turned in stacks of petitions that backers said were signed by 11,020 people asking Cuba’s parliament for a referendum. He has said an additional 10,000 signatures have since been obtained.
The petition drive was considered to be something of a breakthrough in a country not known for its tolerance for challenges to the communist system. Paya has said scores of people were detained or questioned during the campaign.
Cuban authorities countered Paya and his supporters with a petition drive of their own that they said yielded 7 million signatures. It decreed that Cuba’s socialist system will remain untouchable. The measure was officially adopted last spring.
Paya said he will travel in the coming days to Miami, where polls show he enjoys strong support among most Cuban-Americans —- but not among some militant groups.
«I will talk to all who will listen and listen to whoever talks,» Paya said.

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