IFLRY Travel Report
IFLRY Travel Report
By: Daniel Wennick, Vice President IFLRY
Date and place of writing: 25-01-2007, Stockholm (revised 25-02-2007)
Activity/event: Visit the liberal opposition on Cuba
Date of event: 12-19 of January 2007
Delegation: Daniel Wennick (Vice President IFLRY), Henrik Winterstam
(LUF, Sweden) and Mauricio Lopez Gavia (Juventud Libertaria, Costa Rica)
Location: Cuba – Havana, Varadero, Matanzas and Colón
B. Short description of the trip
C. Description of the organizations
Main purpose of the trip to Cuba was to get to know the liberal youth
organization CJM (Coalición Juvenil Martiana) that received observer
status at IFLRY's GA in Andorra in December 2006. The diploma for their
achievement of observer status in IFLRY was handed over to CJM on Cuba.
SILC – Swedish International Liberal Center – have been working with
democratization in Cuba for several years now and arrange trips there on
a regular basis. This visit was somewhat different from the regular
visits since it was going to be mainly focused on CJM. However, other
visits were made as well, for example the family of the independent
journalist Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, who has been imprisoned since 2003 as
well as the leaders of the two liberal parties PLC and PSD. The family
of Adolfo was given hygienic articles and our moral support. The leaders
of the political parties were also given our moral support through, for
example, a note from Carlos Alberto Montaner, they were also given
books, magazines and we held work shops on organizational structure.
For CJM our focus was mainly to get more information about them: how
they are organized, what their future plans are and their views on
liberalism. Our aim was also to give them some advice on organizational
B. Description of the activity/event
The delegation met with CJM on three occasions: first in Edgard Lopez
Moreno's house with fourteen other members late at night, the second
time was in central Havana with about fifteen people as well and the
final meeting was in the province of Matanzas in Colón with around seven
people. The night before they had gathered around fifteen people in
Colón with had caught the attention of the CDR (neighborhood communist
watch guards) that had gathered a huge crowd outside there house
screaming at the people inside.
It was a really uplifting experience meeting CJM. They seemed dynamic
and very driven – the kind of people that can influence others to become
involved. CJM are definitely very promising for the opposition in Cuba.
Two meetings were also held separately with the leaders of PSD and PLC,
Fernando Sánchez López and Julia Cecilia Delgado González, respectively.
B1. IFLRY representation
IFLRY as an organization was presented to all the members of CJM that we
met. They were also given a diploma for their achievement of observer
status within IFLRY. There is no possibility of having meetings in
bigger groups. At the most we gathered fifteen people which is not
recommended. Most dissidents meet in groups of maximum five people.
Talks on how to help CJM
CJM told us that they lack everything. If we can only bring pencils they
would be grateful.
Brochures and hand-outs
It was a high priority for them to be able to print small brochures and
hand-outs. Their suggestion was that we could print a brochure/leaflet
about their organization and bring it into the country. They like SILC's
small brochures/leaflets about the organization and also the small book
about Cuba's prisoners of conscience.
DVDs and books
They also told us that they would highly appreciate DVD's and books on
how a democratic society and free market economy works. DVD's are
appreciated since they would otherwise have sometimes needed to go all
the way to Havana to watch films. They also talked about wanting more
material about Carlos Alberto Montaner.
Means of communication
It is hard for people in the provinces to keep in touch with people from
the organization within the country and, even more so, with the outside
world. They don't have access to Internet and often don't have any phone
lines or mobile phones. It is therefore important for us to help them
getting better ways to communicate with us and amongst each other.
CJM on liberalism
CJM are for a free market economy but it is uncertain to what extent all
members grasp the meaning of a full market economy. They were talking
about the need for privatization. And we got very solid indications of
their opinions on free market economy as well as tolerance and general
human rights. An activity against the expulsion of students for their
opinions, religion or sexual orientations clearly shows their view
A lot of the members of CJM are members of the liberal party PSD.
CJM seems to be really active and extremely bold. After having met other
dissidents we were surprised at how unaffected they seemed to be by all
the oppression. They were also preparing some activity against students
getting expelled because of their religious and political beliefs as
well as sexual orientation.
Sports activities, art and music
They arrange baseball, football games and paint. It is easier to spread
politics through other activities according to CJM. One way of doing so
is to challenge someone from another neighborhood for a game of
football. The team made up of people from CJM then put on bracelets
saying "El cambio" meaning change. In the pause someone from the
opposing team might ask about the bracelet and then they start talking
about politics. Art and baseball are used in the same manor to reach
people that don't want to get directly involved in politics.
CJM also arranged a big inauguration feast for an independent library in
Santa Clara. Many people attended and were served food. They cook a big
soup called 'caldoza'. This concept is widely used in Cuba and these
types of parties are organized by representatives in other provinces as
They also publish a magazine on print but they wanted our help to
publish it digitally.
According to Edgard a big portion of the members have been expelled from
universities for their political ideals and are therefore unemployed. He
thinks that they are around 250 members in the ages 18-38.
In a poor country with a desperate situation such as in Cuba there are
people joining political parties just to get out of the country. This
doesn't have to be a major problem working with democratization but is
something to keep in mind.
CJM has delegations in La Habana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos,
Camaguey and Las Tunas.
Fernando Sánchez López – President PSD
Julia Cecilia Delgado González – President PLC
Edgard López Moreno – President CJM
Alain Ramón Gomez Ramos – vice President CJM, delegate Santa Clara
Ivan Méndez Mirabar – delegate Matanzas CJM
E. For future IFLRY involvement
It is hard going to Cuba and work under the conditions of a controlling
and repressive regime. However, it is very important going there and at
this point the opposition really needs our help. The conditions for
meeting the liberal opposition in the provinces is even worse, yet it is
even more important going there. In the provinces the lack of
communication is apparent and very limiting for their acti
IFLRY should coordinate delegations set up of individuals from the
American continent, other continents and preferably consisting of one
person that has already gone to Cuba on a mission to meet the
opposition. These delegations should bring some of the material that CJM
needs, especially to the provinces and just show up to give moral
support. The first IFLRY delegation should be low key, mostly about
books and DVD's.