Faith Fuels Bid for Pro-Democratic Referendum in Cuba

President of Christian Liberation Movement Tells His Story

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MIAMI, Florida, JUNE 7, 2002 ( Faith enabled Oswaldo Paya Sardinas to persevere until he obtained what many considered impossible.

On May 10, Paya Sardinas, president of the Christian Liberation Movement, handed the National Assembly of Popular Power more than 11,000 signatures of Cubans. The signatures are required for presenting a referendum on the so-called Varela Plan which calls for elections, liberty and respect for human rights.

In an interview with La Voz Católica, a monthly publication of the Archdiocese of Miami, Paya Sardinas talked about the convictions that led to his success in this unheard-of endeavor in Castro´s Cuba.

«Every action I have taken is the consequence of faith in God,» Paya Sardinas said. «Faith was the first motivation. It was faith that gave me strength in the midst of failure, misunderstandings, rejection — even from those from whom I expected support. It is what has enabled me to start from zero many times, not to give up the struggle.»

He continued: «True liberation means to always be aware that this humanity is not orphaned, because we are all brothers, we are all children of God. And God puts you in a place and time, with a neighbor who is the one near you. Who is my neighbor? He is not an abstract being. My neighbor is today´s Cuban, here and now.»

«That myth that says that religion is the opium of the people is destroyed when you discover that it is, precisely, lack of faith that prepares man to be subjected to fear and power,» he said. «The de-Christianization of Cuba was an objective they set themselves to be able to subject the people. When you are a Christian you discover that there is a human power that attempts to usurp God´s place and dominate.»

«However, at the same time, Christian liberation never lets you say that they are the evil ones and we the good ones,» he added. «Instead, it does not allow you to be subjected to fear, and gives you the strength to denounce an unjust situation that must be overcome jointly.»

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