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In an unprecedented challenge to Fidel Castro’s 43-year-old rule, activists delivered more than 11,020 signatures to the National Assembly on Friday, demanding a referendum for broad changes in Cuba’s socialist system less than two days before a visit by former President Carter. Known as Project Varela, the signature-gathering campaign is seen as the biggest homegrown, nonviolent effort in more than four decades to push for reforms in Cuba’s one-party system. (…)
Asked by reporters in April about the campaign, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said he doubted it would succeed and accused its organizers of being on the U.S. government payroll. Paya, who says the project has received no money from any government or group outside Cuba. “This is not project of the opposition, but a citizens’ project to attain the rights of all Cubans,” Paya said, reading a prepared statement. “The world should know that we Cubans are traveling our own road to improve our society. Whoever wants to express solidarity with Cuba, and respect the self-determination of Cubans, should support this demand for a popular vote.

Cubans Deliver Reform Petitions.

As Jose Marti said, “Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom.”

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