Cuban Activist Wants Democratic Transition

Abc news  021705
Cuban Activist Wants Democratic Transition

 HAVANA (AP) – Cuba‘s best-known political activist on Thursday called on those living on the island and abroad to join his new project seeking to create a peaceful transition to democracy and a free market in Cuba.
Oswaldo Paya, known primarily for his lead role in the Varela Project democracy drive, emphasized the inclusive nature of the new endeavor, called National Dialogue, which involves outspoken opponents to the island’s communist government as well as those within the system looking for change.

«Here there is room for liberals, conservatives, social democrats and those communists who have liberty and courage,» Paya told reporters.
Authorities long ago ended the Varela Project, ruling it unconstitutional. In that project, volunteers submitted signatures of 25,000 voters to
Cuba‘s parliament, seeking a referendum asking voters if they favor civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the right to business ownership.
«We are not talking about, or looking for, official support from any government,» he said. The Cuban government has not publicly commented on the movement, which was formally launched last summer. Since then, small groups of citizens have been discussing a draft document about possible changes in
Cuba‘s centralized political and economic systems.
Paya said most participants seem to agree that «the process must be gradual … and take everyone into account.»

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