By Jancel Moreno
HAVANA TIMES — About a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Moises Leonardo Rodriguez, one of the most honest and sincere figures in civil society. I met him via the course of the “Nosotros Tambien Amamos” (We also love) campaign, where I collaborated to the cause as a graphic designer under his charge.
After an email inviting him for an interview, and his willingness to do the same, today I want to share my most sincere admiration for this man, who in my opinion, “is an example many leaders should follow, for his humility, his patriotism and simplicity and especially for his dedication to the cause of our 11 million brothers and sisters” and I would like to tell you about the work of a prestigious organization such as that of the “Corriente Martiana”.
HT: What is Corriente Martiana?
MLR: Corriente Martiana is a not-for-profit organization, which hasn’t been officially recognized, and has been promoting human rights since 1991 according to the United Nations’ regulations and procedures via face-to-face teaching, handing out information and educational materials in print and digital formats as well as by designing and implementing pressure strategies on key decision-making institutions in alliance with other social players.
HT: Why Jose Marti?
MLR: Even though I have never identified myself with the persona of Fidel Castro, when I studied his defense statement during the trial because of the attacks on the Moncada barracks in 1953, known as his “History Will Absolve Me” speech, I was reminded that Marti warned that “truth doesn’t choose the lips that have to pronounce it” which, added to the distance between reality and what had been promised, made me think about reestablishing the 26th of July Movement.
When I mentioned this to my mother, Noemi Valdes Ruiz, in 1991, she asked me if I was crazy, that “these people” don’t care about the people, that most people have double standards in reality so as not to run into problems and to receive material benefits and she added, “Why don’t you think about Marti?” and that’s where the fine idea of calling the movement “Corriente Martiana” came from.
HT: What does your organization hope to achieve? Who are the people who benefit from your work?
MLR: We want people to recognize their rights and to also learn how they can communicate violations of their human rights to the UN in due form.
We are also inviting citizens to be active players in the strategic proposals that we are implementing such as that of the Nosotros Tambien Amamos campaign in search of legalizing same-sex marriage in Cuba and now the “Por una Cuba Martiana” (For a Cuba based on the teachings of Jose Marti) campaign too. We do all of this in order to make active citizen participation a reality when it comes to taking responsible action.
Our work is directed at increasing civic engagement in responsible action which influences the decision-makers when they are writing out laws, public policies and social harmony rules with a focus on human rights and therefore centered around people.
This is the common understanding that is capable of overriding forever biased ideologies, religions and different groups with interests that sometimes coincide with those of other social, economic or political groups.
HT: Is it hard for you to work in Cuban society? Why?
MLR: Our work is hard for many reasons. Firstly, there’s the Cuban government’s repression and control which is used against all Cuban citizens, but especially against independent people.
Secondly, there’s the fear and civil apathy that exists in our society, which when added to a life of lies or double standards, makes it difficult to mobilize the general population for things that will favor these same fearful, apathetic and immoral people and their families.
A third factor is the lack of resources to carry out our work, plus poor public transport and telecommunication systems which lack modernity such as the internet given its low bandwidth and high costs.
HT: They say that the last thing we lose is hope. Is that true? What do you hope for Cuba’s future?
MLR: The future will be better or worse depending on the people and the country they want Cuba to be. Nobody will resolve our problems; foreign aid is just that, aid. The deciding factor will be whether citizens get involved in peaceful strategies to put pressure on national decision-makers. While they are allowed to continue doing what they decide to do about what affects us, the situation will continue to get worse, in a material, spiritual, ethnic sense as well as the very foundations of Cuban society.
HT: How can we continue Corriente Martiana’s work?
MLR: You can learn about our work by visiting our website www.corrientemartianacuba.org and by getting in touch with promoters on the island and our representatives abroad. Many friends or allies, whichever you prefer, know our doctrine and its foundations, what we do and can talk to anyone who is interested about them.
In the sense of “following” our work, I understand this as becoming an actor of all or some of the civic proposals that Corriente has made. At this time we are making our human rights defense work professional, learning to communicate violations to the United Nations in due form to all the Cuban people we can, making them activists of the Nosotros Tambien Amamos campaign and the Por una Cuba Martiana campaign. There’s something for everyone to choose from according to what they believe, their skills and abilities they believe they have.
HT: Before finishing off, I would like you to give a message to the Cuban people as an advocate of humankind’s basic rights.
MLR: My message to the Cuban people is that they stop accepting, de facto, that anybody is going to solve the problems that we complain about within our family, our friends, at work with our inner circle, or in public spaces, when we feel overwhelmed and powerless. Instead, the potential solution lies in each and every one of us.
The first thing we have to do is change our inner selves: to be tolerant, respectful of other people’s rights, honest with yourself, decide to leave behind the life of lies and get ready to live honestly. We have to begin to demand that things change, specifying the things that we think need to be changed. We must do so in every government space and via any means you have to voice what people most need, not what legislators who don’t represent us want.
One of the proposals we can start by demanding for is that outlined in Por una Cuba Martiana. It’s time to remember Marti’s warning: “Either we lift up the net together, or we, useless rebels, live under the net.”