Since the launch of the campaign in 2015, thousands of Cuban civilians have joined members of the opposition in the calls for change on the island and converted themselves into activists of Cuba Decide. In the first few months of 2021, there has been a widespread increase of public protests. The Cuban regime has been forced to acknowledge and respond to the work of key democratic proponents and activists, most recently releasing some well-known dissidents, and backing down from their repressive actions in direct response to the pressure exerted by the campaign. The Cuba Decide campaign has penetrated the information blockade and garnered brand awareness of more than 70% among Cuban citizens on the Island.
Cuba Decide has gained support from notable organizations such as key members of the European Parliament, The Organization of American States (OAS), The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,and dozens more. Several former and acting presidents and parliamentarians across the world have also stood in solidarity against the repression of the regime. In the meanwhile, the campaign has built a coalition of more than 60 dissident organizations both on and off the island which continues to expand and works together to develop joint proposals for advocacy and policy proposals. Our promoters have mobilized a large part of the international community, pushing governments in the region to abandon their support of the Cuban regime and in some cases even contributing to the decision governments to break relations with the regime in Havana.
On the night of April 15, Cuba ignited in protest of the congress of the Communist Party to claim that the heads of the Communist Party cannot decide the future of the nation for the people. All over Cuba, houses and neighborhoods were flooded with lights from cell phones, candles and flashlights in a non-violent protest promoted by the Cuba Decide initiative called “Luz de Alarma.” The protest was carried out by many civil society organizations and by thousands of Cubans who decided to light a #LuzdeAlarma just before the start of the 8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).
On April 9, international solidarity and peaceful mobilization of Cubans forced the withdrawal of the police who had been surrounding the UNPACU headquarters on the 21st day of “La Huelga Contra Represión” (hunger strike against repression). Cuba Decide promoters garnered international support and solidarity from more than 75 human rights organizations and members of the media in the world, and were able to achieve urgent proclamations of support from the OAS Secretary General, the European Parliament, the United States Department of State, doctors in the diaspora, and government officials from Latin America, the United States, and Europe.
In March, 53 promoters of Cuba Decide and members of UNPACU were on hunger strike. The strike demanded an end to the repression they face for trying to distribute humanitarian assistance to those in need in their area. On March 26, day 7 of the strike, promotors of Cuba Decide exposed the deepening crisis in Cuba during a press conference to an audience of over 75 international organizations and members of the international press, along with several hundred private citizens. In the conference, we requested international support and formally denounced the situation the strikers faced. Cuba Decide promoters made a request for the international community to immediately take action to stop the impunity by denouncing these acts. With his denunciation of “State terrorism that the dictatorship of Havana applies against its citizens,” Luis Almagro joined in the accusations that several promoters of Cuba Decide made before the IACHR in response to the repressive patterns implemented by the regime on the Island.
On March 18, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, a coalition of organizations presented evidence demonstrating several of the regime’s acts of repression in the midst of the pandemic, and also expressed concern about the application of systemic patterns that that have been exercised in different ways during the last year and violate human rights. The Foundation for Pan-American Democracy (FDP) outlined the Cuban regime’s repeated patterns of persecution amid deep humanitarian crisis and political repression throughout the island. The executive director of the FDP and promoter of Cuba Decide, Rosa María Payá, pointed out that “the repressive actions of the regime have even more grave consequences in the midst of the humanitarian crisis that Cuban families are facing… [the regime] deliberately [uses] coercion and violence against specific groups to instill fear in the population…the regime exercises state terrorism against the Cuban people.”
Cubans from the Island, and in exile, committed to the “Acuerdo por la Democracia”, sent proposals for consideration by governments in the Americas and Europe through the platform Pasos de Cambio. The proposals exclusively focused on the subject of foreign policy towards Cuba. The platform has published the suggestions of Cuban opposition organizations and civil society, as well as citizens living in the Island and in the diaspora to allow for policies to be made based on the voices of the Cuban people.
On February 18, Rosa María Payá published an opinion piece in the Washington Post where she proposes an alternate solution to President Joe Biden with regards to foreign policy towards Cuba.
She suggests: “Biden and Congress should make no unilateral concessions, but rather ask Cuba to make irreversible steps toward the recognition of fundamental human rights. These steps should include: the unconditional release of all political prisoners; the end of repression; and respect in law and in practice for freedom of expression, association — including independent political parties — public assembly and economic freedom.”
Moreover, in the article she insists that: “Biden should consider denouncing the regime’s illicit activities, including the exploitative use of the “medical brigades,” and seek to prosecute in courts those individuals linked to criminal and terrorist activities. He should ask other nations in our hemisphere to take similar steps. He should also promote the participation of Cuban independent civil society groups in the Summit of the Americas to be held in the United Sates, and veto the participation of the Cuban regime until it complies with the articles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
On February 12, Cubans from the Island, and in exile, committed to democracy, sent proposals to various sectors of the United States government. After receiving over 162 proposals exclusively on the subject of United States foreign policy towards Cuba, the platform Pasos de Cambio has published the suggestions of Cuban opposition organizations and civil society, as well as citizens living in the Island and in the diaspora. The proposals were sent to President Biden and Vice President Harris, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the foreign policy committees of the United States Congress.
Cuba Decide released a video summarizing the exponential growth of protests on the Island. Protesters have been raising their voices in opposition to systemic political, civil, economic and social issues affecting our daily lives and in favor of a change in the system. These protests are evidence that the opposition movement and the Cuban people’s desire for change have continued to expand to a point where it cannot be ignored any longer.
On January 27, Cuba Decide hosted its next installment of the Rumbo al Cambio series. This series, “Left, Right, Uppercut,” was an open dialogue between Rosa María Paya and panelists of diverse political standing. This part of the series was dedicated to bringing the views of members of civil society and the Cuban opposition to light. There was also a focus on certain proposals of foreign policy and solidarity from the international community towards the Island extended by distinguished politicians and officials of Latin American, North American and European national parliaments together with representatives of the Cuban-American community.
After several pleas to the Obama and Trump administrations, respectively, the United States reinstated Cuba on their list of countries who engage in state-sponsored terrorism as of January 11, 2021. For many years, Rosa María Payá requested the administrations to reincorporate the Cuban regime on this list along with other Cubans. This reinstatement recognizes the obvious ties the Castros and the military leadership of the regime have with activities related to terrorism, legitimizing the threat they pose to the citizenry of Cuba.
On December 2nd, Cuba Decide continued with the virtual series, “Rumbo al Cambio.” The virtual event featured conversations with strikers and activists who were at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement; the jurist Asdrúbal Aguiar – director of the group of former presidents IDEA; the constitutional lawyers Karla Velázquez and Rafael Peñalver, Sebastián Grundberger- party director of the KAS, and promoters of #CubaDecide in Cuba and around the world. This part of the series focused on Cuba Decide’s proposal of a binding plebiscite.
On December 10, in commemoration of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promoters of Cuba Decide convened for a procession from the Freedom Tower to the Gesu Church in Miami. This event was organized in solidarity with activists who were surrounded by police at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement and those who are continually harassed by police throughout the country; with the hundreds of young people who demonstrated on November 27th in Havana; with political prisoners; and with all Cubans who demand their right to have rights.
On this same day, there was also participation in peaceful demonstrations in various cities around the world by Cubans in exile in support of activists, artists, freelance journalists, opponents and citizens who are under repression on the island.
Rosa María Payá participated in a virtual philanthropic event based in Southern California to expand awareness about Cuba’s humanitarian crisis and the repression that people living in Cuba face.
Cuba Decide promoters acted in solidarity with their counterparts on the island who were on a hunger strike by taking to the streets and to social media in support of the San Isidro Movement. As a result of Cuba Decide’s promotors, in collaboration with all those who spoke out, many governments called out in solidarity with those of the San Isidro Movement.
On November 23, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 90/20, in which it granted a precautionary measure to the Miranda Leyva family after determining that they are in a situation of serious and urgent risk of irreparable damage to their rights in Cuba. The official request for a precautionary measure was made by the Center for Incident Reports of the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana.
On September 3rd, PP MEPs Dolors Montserrat, Antonio López-Istúriz, Leopoldo López Gil and Isabel Benjumea today addressed a question to the High Representative of European Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, asking him to consider the suspension of the Dialogue and Political Agreement for Cooperation between the European Union and Cuba due to repeated violations by the Cuban Government. The question has also been co-signed by MEPs Renew José Ramón Bauzá and Rita Charanzová, and of the ECR group Herman Tesch.
The text specifically mentions the blockade of humanitarian aid sent through the Solidarity Between Brothers initiative and collected five months ago in the United States in hopes of mitigating the impact of the crisis on the island and providing as much assistance as possible to vulnerable families in Cuba.
On September 8th, for the Sunflower Revolution, Cubans inside the Island took to the streets in defense of their rights and liberties, demanded freedom from the Castro-communist regime, and the release of all political prisoners.
International participation in the Sunflower Revolution was widespread with protests by Cubans living in the Netherlands, Ecuador, the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Switzerland and other countries.
On September 24th, the Conferencia Transatlántica: Cuba en Crisis took place live via Facebook
to discuss the crisis that Cuba is going through, as well as the urgent actions that the European Parliament can take to pressure the regime and alleviate the seriousness of the Cuban situation.
On September 30th, the at Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s (CHLI) 16th Annual Gala and Leadership Awards Rosa María Payá was recognized as the CHLI Ileana Ros-Lehtinen International Leadership Honoree, an award which honors those who have a significant impact on the U.S Hispanic community.
The Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana announces the European Parliament as the recipient of the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and Life Award, and recognizes Jose Daniel Garcia Ferrer with an honorable mention.
Tons of humanitarian aid from the successful “Solidaridad Entre Hermanos” (Solidarity Among Brothers) collection were delivered to the Port of Mariel to be distributed directly to the neediest citizens in the midst of the humanitarian crisis that Cuba is experiencing.
A day-long digital tribute gathers Cubans and international figures around the world and across the Island. For over 12 hours, the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana (FDP) and the Cuba Decide citizen initiative led by Rosa María Payá, held a real time homage, to honor the martyrs of Cuban democracy, Harold Cepero (1980-2012) and Oswaldo Payá (1952-2012), both assassinated in Cuba on Sunday, July 22, 2012, by State Security agents on behalf of the Cuban regime.
Rosa María Payá meets with President Donald Trump asking for support to the Cuban people rights to decide their future. On July 10, 2020, the promoter of Cuba Decide, participated in a public discussion with the US President and other representatives of countries affected by communism. Ms. Payá asked President Trump to help the Cuban people directly and designate the Communist party, the G2, and the Cuban military as foreign terrorist organizations.
Promoters of Cuba Decide partner with Commissioner Stuardo Ralón Orellana, rapporteur for Cuba of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to promote and present the publication of the first Country Report on the Communist Island in the last 37 years. This something that the campaign has heavily advocated for.
“Solidaridad Entre Hermanos” (Solidarity Among Brothers), the largest citizen led donation drive for Cuba in decades, was successfully organized and executed by the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana, in collaboration with the City of Miami. Hundreds of exiles participated to send the products to the Island so that they may be received and distributed directly by the Churches and members of independent civil society. Over 15,000 families from the Island registered on our website to receive aid.
The widespread campaign held by Cuba Decide and many other Cubans yielded victorious results. On April 3, Jose Daniel Ferrer, the UNPACU leader who was arbitrarily imprisoned in Cuba, was finally released since being detained since October.
The Government of Paraguay recognizes our initiative. On March 2, Rosa María Payá, promoter of Cuba Decide, held a formal meeting with the Acting President of Paraguay Hugo Velázquez, who assured her that his country firmly maintains their position as a defender of democracy in the Americas. Thereafter, Ms. Payá met with the Paraguayan Foreign Minister to denounce Cuban interference in the internal affairs of countries such as Bolivia, Chile and Colombia.
Promoters of Cuba Decide gathered local citizens and politicians in Madrid to ask the congress for their support of the Cuban people’s right to decide, carrying out a successful demonstration in Madrid.
Cuba Decide is victorious in earning the support of various groups of the European Parliament and organizations to shape the agreement between the European Union and the Cuban regime to promote democratic changes and cease repression or, suspend the agreement. Ms. Payá travelled to Europe to meet with the European Union’s Parliament to advocate for the revision or suspension of the Agreement made between Cuba and the EU based upon principles of democracy and human rights that Cuba has violated on many accounts. Specifically, Ms. Payá emphasized the wrongful imprisonment of Jose Daniel Ferrer and demanded his immediate release.
Bolivia breaks relations with the dictatorship. Cuba Decide managed to greatly increase the level of international pressure against the regime, contributing to the sovereign decision of the Constitutional government of Bolivia to suspend its diplomatic relations with the Cuban dictatorship. This decision was made given the constant hostility of the Cuban authorities and the insults from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs throughout the occasion of Payá’s visit. Rosa Maria Payá had been received days before by the president, Jeanine Añez, to seek support for Cuba Decide democratic goal and expose the interference of the Cuban dictatorship’s intelligence services in attempts at destabilizing democracy in that country.
Thousands unite in the social media campaign launched by promoters of Cuba Decide called “100 Days 100 Voices” in an effort to raise awareness and demand the freedom of José Daniel Ferrer. The campaign also urged support for the U.S. Senate Resolution 454 and House Resolution 774.
Many influential voices were featured in this viral campaign, including: current and former United States Congressmen Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, respectively, Colombian Senator, Paola Holguín and Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.
Cuba Decide unveils an impactful, promotional video, with tens of thousands of views, that is directed towards Cubans and allies alike, on and off the Island. The video serves as a call to action to promote the steps of establishing democratic processes in Cuba.
The video, featuring Cuban born individuals and created by Cuba Decide platform leaders, highlights the suffering of those who are living under the regime as well as the trauma that has been experienced by Cuban people over generations.
Cuba Decide successfully urged the EU Parliament to pass resolution 2019/2929(RSP) that not only demands the immediate release of Ferrer, but also the immediate halt of Cuba’s interference in the affairs of Latin American countries. This action was following the violent and arbitrary arrest of UNPACU leader and Cuba Decide promoter, Jose Daniel Ferrer.
The resolution also demands the fulfilment of the binding obligations established in the PDCA, including the suspension of the agreement when the regime is in violation of human rights, as per the established provisions.
We accomplished uniting upwards of 600 people from the opposition, both on and off the Island, congregated at the Path Toward Change held at the Freedom Tower in Miami, FL, to ratify the Agreement for Democracy and to denounce the arbitrary imprisonment of Jose Daniel Ferrer, Fernando González, José Pupo Chaveco and Roilán Zarraga Ferrer.
This unified display of solidarity reaffirmed Cuba Decide’s unwavering denunciation of the dictatorship’s violation of human rights.
Simultaneous demonstrations across the Island and throughout the Exile community. Cuba Decide promoters and UNPACU across Cuba called for a national demonstration where citizens attempted to gather in public spaces with a sunflower in hand. The participating cities included: Camagüey, Holguín, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba.
Despite the 100+ arrests prior to, and following, the demonstrations, the protest was successful in drawing international attention to Cuba and the suffering of its people under the regime where their rights are continuously violated.
This demonstration was an act of peaceful protest in response to the repression faced by members of the opposition, and was timed to coincide with the official visit to Cuba by European Union Representative, Federica Mogherini, who has stated that Cuba is a one-party democracy.
The Day to honor the Victims of Communism in the Americas, in honor of the Cuban martyr Oswaldo Paya, is made official. Cuba Decide and the Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Network of Latin American Youth for Democracy) partnered to honor Martyrs of Democracy in 23 cities across Europe and the Americas.
The Miami Dade County Commission honored the legacy of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero with a Proclamation on July 22nd as the Day for the Victims of Communism in the Americas.
The Swedish government agrees with Cuba Decide and refuses to ratify the EU agreement with Cuba. Sweden stands in solidarity with the Cuban people in their quest for freedom.
Rosa Maria Payá is awarded the Morris Abram Award at the 2019 UN Watch Annual Gala in Geneva.
Cuba Decide promoters participate in the 49th General Assembly of the OAS and the international press expose the Cuban Regime’s practice of human trafficking, specifically pertaining to doctors they send abroad who are denied wages. They also expose the Cuban Regime’s practice of expulsion when 35 activists were expelled from the country.
Cuba Decide successfully launches a massive election monitoring and reporting campaign: NO al Sistema (NO to the System campaign). The government tries to silence opposition voices by arresting, and even deporting, activists. Citizens report on the fraud taking place in numerous electoral colleges during the illegitimate constitutional referendum across the island, at times including video and photographic evidence. More than 334,113 people are informed of their rights using email, mass texting, social media, and door-to-door canvassing.
Cuba Decide supporters and partners participate or organize events in front of Cuban Embassies in 18 cities across the world as part of the “Marcha de los Prohibidos” (March of the Prohibited). The events generate a unified call against the Cuban political system, the president, and the upcoming referendum. Hundreds of Cubans in exile participate and some are met with counter protests and violence organized by Cuban government officials, such as in Brazil. The events generate awareness of a variety of human rights violations both on and off the island.
Cuba Decide, together with thousands of Cubans, participate in a successful grassroots campaign on the 60thanniversary of the dictatorship. “Not one more year of dictatorship”, or Ni1+, is the rallying call that engages a record number of Cubans on and off the island. Although intended only for the first week of 2019, the campaign organically grows and remains strong through February 25, and evolves into a rejection of the new constitution imposed by the government.
Cuba Decide promoters advocated for the inclusion of a resolution 2018/2926(RSP) that defend and uphold certain human rights standards preceding a PDCA trade agreement between Cuba and the EU.
The ex-presidents of Latin American and Spain (IDEA) declare their support for the Cuba Decide campaign.
Cuba Decide successfully pressures the Cuban regime to withdraw their delegation from the inaugural ceremony at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru.
High-level meetings held at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru draw international attention on rights violations. Participation in the event also exposes the non-democratic process, led by Raul Castro, to appoint a new president in Cuba.
Vice President of the United States, Michael Pence affirmed the support of the United States with the Cuban people during a press conference with Ms. Payá.
The United States Senate passes Senate Res. 224 – A resolution recognizing the sixth anniversary of the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, commemorating his legacy and commitment to democratic values and principles.
March 11, 2018
Cuba Decide launches a civil disobedience campaign, calling upon citizens to nullify their ballots with the word “plebiscite” or abstain from voting. Cubans have an opportunity to voice their opposition to the fraudulent succession and support a legitimate process for the Cuban People.
Cuba Decide monitors the elections at electoral colleges across the country. Results show 37% of voters abstain or invalidate their electoral ballots, despite residing in places where high levels of manipulation and violence imposed by State Security are registered. This is an unprecedented act of defiance in Cuba.
Cuba Decide brings international attention to the Cuban government’s repressive system during the second annual Oswaldo Payá Life and Liberty Award, held in Havana Cuba. Former Presidents Andres Pastrana and Jorge Quiroga, of Colombia and Bolivia, members of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) group, are prohibited from entering the island to receive the prize. As a result, outrage among the Colombian and Bolivian government ensues and is documented by international media and international institutions.
Cuba Decide implements election monitoring across the island, calling upon citizens to nullify their ballots with the word “plebiscite”, or to leave their ballots blank. Cuba Decide dispatches more than 30 teams to monitor election counts throughout Cuba. The Cuba Decide team establishes that more than 30% of ballots are nullified at polling places where monitoring took place. The Cuban government officially reports it at 20% and then later reduces it to 15%.
Cuba Decide holds a mass in Havana and brings together a record number of opposition members and private citizens to peacefully celebrate the life and legacy of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero on the 5th anniversary of their assassination.
Cuba Decide provokes an international incident during the first annual Oswaldo Payá Life and Liberty award ceremony in Havana. The Cuban Government does not allow numerous former heads of state and the acting Secretary General of the OAS to travel or participate in the award ceremony. International awareness is raised on the Cuban government’s continued human rights violations.
Rosa Maria Payá and other Cuba Decide leaders present Cuban Parliament with more than 10,000 new signatures in support of the Varela project, calling for a public deliberation to change to a democratic multiparty system.
ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT OF A PLEBISCITE
Asociacion de Expresos Politicos Cubanos de Tampa
Center for a Free Cuba (CFC)
Circulo Democratico Municipalista de Cuba
Comite Apoyo a las Damas Blanco Laura Pollan
Comite Cubano Pro Derechos Humanos
Consejo para la Libertad de Cuba
Consejo Presidio Politico Cubano
Cuba Independiente y Democratica (CID)
Cuban Aid Foundation
Cubanos Unidos de PR
Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca
Damas de Blanco
Cubano Federation Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales
Federation Mundial de Expresos Politicos
Cubanos Foro Promoción Democratica
Continental Cuba Foundation
Fundacion Nuevo Pensamiento Cubano
Fundacion para la democracia panamericana
Fundacion para los Derechos Humanos en Cuba
Global Community Action
Institute de la Rosa Blanca
M.A.R. por Cuba
Movimiento 30 de Noviembre
Movimiento Somos Mas
Partido democrata Cristiano de Cuba
Solidaridad de Trabajadores Cubanos(STC)
The Cuba Corp
The Cuban American Nacional Foundation
Union Expresos Politicos Cubanos Zona NE
Union Liberal Cubans
Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU)
Alianza Democratica Oriental
Asociacion de Abogados Independientes
Centro Cuba Lex
Coalician Central Opositora
Comision de Derechos Humanos Y Reconciliacion Nacional
Corriente Agramontista de Abogados Independientes
Corriente Socialista Democratica
Institute Cubano pm la libertad de expresion y prensa (ICLEP)
Movimiento Cubano Reflexion
Padre Conrado p/c Reinaldo Perez
Partido por la Democracia Pedro Luis Boitel
Partido Republicano de Cuba
Partido Social Democrata Cubano
Partido Solidaridad Liberal Cubano
Proyecto Democrata Cubano (PRODECU)
Union Social Comunitaria Cubana
Fundacion Familia Bacardi
Cubanos Residentes En Eslovaquia