Through an official communication to the Human Rights Tulip secretary, Chris Collier, CADAL nominates Dagoberto Valdés, Director of the Convivencia Group (www.convivenciacuba.es) from Pinar del Río, Cuba.
The nomination is endorsed and supported by several European officials, including the former President of Poland and activist from Solidarity, Lech Walesa; the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg; the Director of the President's Cabinet in Spain, Jorge Moragas; the Bishop of Prague, Václav Malý; and the Swedish diplomat, Ingemar Cederberg.
First awarded in 2008, the Human Rights Defenders Tulip -- the Dutch government's human rights award -- is presented to an individual who has shown exceptional courage in protecting and promoting human rights. The award honors those who, in their daily lives, work to promote and protect the rights of their fellow citizens through peaceful means. According to their webpage (www.humanrightstulip.org), "the recipient should be a person who has shown exceptional courage and suffered (or runs the risk of suffering) negative consequences as a result of his/her actions as a human rights defender."
In regards to CADAL's 2012 nominee, former Polish President Lech Walesa said, "Dagobeto Valdés has been one of the most important examples of activism for human rights protection and civic involvement in Cuba. In spite of many attempts of the government to impede his activity has never abandoned his work and along with his co-workers continued his mission of 'reconstruction and reinforcement of the civil society in Cuba.'" Walesa, also the co-founder of Solidarity, the workers' opposition movement to the Polish communist regime, added that the Convivencia group, founded by Valdés, "regularly gathers individuals for open discussion, educational courses and seminars on issues such as human rights, international law, civic rights, self-organization, self-help and democracy. It teaches that work in solidarity and peaceful coexistence can benefit for the better of the entire society."
Furthermore, Lech Walesa stated that, "Dagoberto Valdés regardless repression and severe difficulties, that are met on the daily basis, is the example and a bedrock for those who long for freedom but are afraid to voice their opinion."
Referring to Valdés, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg noted, "I am convinced that he fully meets the required criteria. As I could witness myself some years ago, in his Education Center in Pinar del Rio Dagoberto Valdes organizes exceptional lectures and seminars on different topics with specific focus on civic and social rights of Cuban people."
Also expressing his support for the nomination, Jorge Moragas, Director of the President's Cabinet in Spain, said, "Previously as director of the Catholic magazine Vitral, and currently as founder and leader of the initiative Convivencia, Dagoberto performed a vital work of civic and democratic building in a country that suffers the longest dictatorship known in Latin America."
The Bishop of Prague, Mons. Václav Malý recommended Dagoberto Valdés for the Human Rights Tulip 2012 because he considered him "a courageous man worthy of merits for spreading culture of high quality, enriching horizons of his readers. In spite of limitations coming from the state power he doesn't lose his enthusiasm and courage." Malý said that he is proud to have met Dagoberto Valdés in person as "His deep undemonstrative faith, his ardour for truth and human rights defending left its indelible mark on me."
Finally, Ingemar Cederberg, former Chief of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Havana from 2005 to September 2010, also supports this nomination because "out of all the people I knew during my five years in the diplomatic service in Cuba, Dagoberto Valdés was for me the most sensible person in his struggle for a democratic society with respect to human rights. With a great sense of humor he has managed to survive all the setbacks with strength and great human capacity."
This award has been presented every year since 2008. The previous winners have been: Ni Yulan from China (2011), Bertha Oliva from Honduras (2010), Shadi Sadr from Iran (2009), and Justine Masika Bihamba from Congo (2008).