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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Regis Iglesias Ramirez

Interviewed December 10, 2023

My name is Regis Iglesias Ramírez, I am a spokesman for the Christian Liberation Movement. [The Christian Liberation Movement is a non-violent Cuban dissident organization advocating for democratic reforms that was founded in 1988. Until his death in 2012, it was led by Oswaldo Paya.] I am also a political exile and had to leave my country after spending seven and a half years in prison because I was one of the national coordinators requesting a plebiscite for the Varela Project [Named for a Cuban religious leader, the Varela Project was a civil society initiative in Cuba, centered on a petition drive advocating democratic reforms.], which was a bill that dealt with the recognition of certain fundamental rights, which are inalienable for every human and are even included within the Cuban Constitution, which, though oppressive and plagued with contradictions, still recognizes these rights.

We were therefore imprisoned not because we violated an unjust law, but rather because the military junta, the Cuban dictatorship, violated its own laws in order to have us imprisoned. After seven and a half years, we had the choice to either remain imprisoned or go into exile. In an initial phone interview I had with Monsignor Jaime Ortega, the Cardinal of Cuba [and Archbishop of Havana], I stated my refusal to leave.

But when my position became public, it was mostly my daughters who reminded me that they had spent their whole lives, not only the last seven and a half years but twenty-two years altogether, born into and growing up and developing amidst an environment of persecution, oppression, and exclusion due to my work in the Christian Liberation Movement, because of my position towards the government, and because of my militancy in the movement from 1989. So they fervently asked me to accept exile, and upon being asked again by Monsignor Ortega, I accepted. I was taken from the prison to the airport, where I was reunited with some of my family who were going to be exiled along with me. After that, we arrived at Madrid.