At the 2015 Summit of the Americas, held in Panama, Cuba brought their shock troops and representatives from pro-government organizations and entities in order to export its primary product: political intolerance. With this presence, they hampered the activities of civil society organizations and collectively made antagonistic comments against the OAS itself and the representatives from independent Cuban civil society.
Given this precedent, the OAS is degrading the space meant for civil society at the Summit for the Americas in Lima by accepting a coalition of representatives from Cuban uncivil society and pro-government organizations, such as the organization called “For an Inclusive and Respectful World,” whose name is, in reality, a tasteless joke.
At the same time, the OAS continues to perpetuate the illegal status of independent Cuban civil society organizations. These independent organizations are declared illegal by the Castro military regime for not sharing their dogmatic vision and singular thinking about “the aims of socialist society.” The OAS perpetuates the illegal status of Cuban pro-democracy organizations by requiring that participating organizations be officially registered with their governments, which none of these independent Cuban organizations are. The OAS could instead accept their founding documents, statutes, or recommendations from one or more already-registered civil society organizations as official documentation for registration. Because of this, Cuban democratic activists have only been able to attend the summit, since the General Assembly in Asunción onward, by registering with other countries’ civil society organizations, such as CADAL.
Moreover, as recognized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Cuban dictatorship arbitrarily prevents dissidents from exiting the country. Because of this, there will be significantly fewer democratic Cubans present at the Lima summit than the Panama summit.
Because of these reasons, the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL) decided not to participate in the Forum of Civil Society Organizations at the OAS’s Summit of the Americas in Lima. This decision was made in solidarity with our Cuban democratic colleagues and as a refusal to share a space with those that represent a dictatorial government and have nothing to do with civil society.
Instead, CADAL will organize a conference in Lima called “The Right to Democracy in Cuba,” and offer various alternatives to the Summit of the Americas.