Friday, 30 March 2007

Lech Walesa Writes to the Cuban People

Published in the Miami Herald, BY LECH WALESA and ALEKSANDER KWASNIEWSKI

It is almost 20 years since Poland rejoined the large family of world democracies. The events of 1989 and the transformation of the political system of our homeland started at the time have become a historic example of peaceful change. In due course, this became a model for many other nations seeking a new path to follow.

Today, we, the individuals who then sat on the opposite sides of the ''round table,'' are extremely proud of those achievements and fully confident that opting for agreement for the benefit and future of Poland -- despite some resentment and concern among the circles we represented -- was the right choice.

May these words, which we write together, along with the example of a free and progressing Poland, serve as testimony to the victory of agreement over conflict, dialogue over quarrel, good over evil.

While enjoying the prosperity of our own country, we bear no less moral responsibility for all those recesses of our globe where people continue to suffer shortages of freedom and bread, where being in opposition is seen as a betrayal of the raison d'état, where prosperity remains the privilege of the few.

At this time, on the fourth anniversary of the Cuban ''black spring,'' the events that delivered yet another blow against the democratic opposition in Cuba, we send our encouraging message first to all the suffering and humiliated, known and unknown heroes to whom freedom remains but a dream.

The time of change is imminent. The breath of awakening democracy in Cuba can be felt even here, in Poland, thousands of miles away from you. Be persistent and in solidarity, be patient and indomitable, ready to construct common future for all Cubans, so that your beautiful country can become a friendly home to all those of your citizens who today inhabit the island and those who have been forced to abandon it.

We are going to provide you with our support in this effort. Both in word and in action.

Meanwhile, let us remind the Cuban authorities that the time of tyrants and running the country while following ''the only right line'' is coming to an end. A triumphant march of democracy cannot be stopped. We in Poland know this better than anyone else.

Hence, our address to you, which comes from distant Warsaw and appeals to your sense of responsibility, patriotism and love for your nation. You are faced with a great opportunity to restore democracy in Cuba, an opportunity that you must not waste. If you opt for a different solution, this time history will not absolve you!

Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski are former presidents of Poland. Eight months ago, the Lech Walesa Institute in Poland initiated the project Polish Solidarity with Cuba.