Thank you very much, on behalf of the Cuban people, on behalf of the dominated and repressed Cuban people; because they are the ones that have really earned this medal.
In these moments during which the Cuban cause is passing through a very difficult situation, when we have been excluded from the negotiating table, when we have given and continue to give our lives for the cause of freedom, I would like to dedicate this medal to my fellow Cubans.
Since [the announcement of opening relations between the United States and Cuba], we have lived with the terrible news that the Cuban people, and especially the ones who have fought to establish a democracy in Cuba, were not going to be taken into account [in the ongoing negotiations]. Many of us were discouraged.
However, because we are committed to a democratic Cuba, we decided to continue. And we took our inspiration from the Cuban people that have either died or been exiled—from the Cuban political prisoners. They are living in diaspora; they are yearning for a free country. They refuse to go back to Cuba, and to reach any kind of agreement with the current government.
These are the people who have suffered so much more, who have been betrayed so much more, than I have. And despite it they continue to fight for a free Cuba.
It is imperative that it should be known that during the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s, from the last century, no one heard. The prisoners were repressed and murdered with impunity. They had no internet, there were no newspapers that reported what was going on. Their family couldn’t visit, but nevertheless, they continued fighting for two decades.
That is why, after December 17th, when we analyzed the situation of our country, we noticed that we couldn’t afford to give up. On the contrary, we had to continue fighting. And we had to continue fighting harder than ever to achieve democracy in Cuba.
This is the group of the Cuban people to which, from the bottom of my heart, I dedicate this medal—to the Cuban political prisoners of the decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The other group of the Cuban people to which I dedicate this medal to is to those who, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, travelled around the world fighting against communism.
Communism was not able to consolidate in Latin America, in Africa, and even in Europe because of these Cubans, these patriot Cubans, who left their families and their friends with the goal of not letting communism ensnare the world.
I believe that these two groups of the Cuban people, out of the whole Cuba, are the ones that inspired me to be who I am; the ones that made me the anti-communist that I am, and that I will be until the end of my days.
However, sometimes we speak only of the past. And it is important that we speak of the present. Today the world—especially America—is in danger because communism is resurging, and there are statesmen and rulers that do not want to realize this.
It is important that during this time figures emerge at the head of democratic countries with the characteristics of the two men for whom this medal is named after—Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Two tireless fighters against communism who never surrendered.
This is the third time that a Cuban receives this recognition. A recognition that is symbolic, iconic, and emblematic. But more than receiving these recognitions, we need to free Cuba and achieve democracy in my country. I believe that I would truly earn this medal only when Cuba becomes free and democratic.
Thank you very much. And we invite you to join us in our continuous fight for the freedom of Cuba. And if we fall along the way, we ask that you keep supporting our brothers and sisters. Because the dictatorship will not soften, even after the American policy shift last December. Indeed, it has gotten tougher. Thank you, and may God bless Cuba, the United States, and may God bless a world without communism.
Editor’s Note: These remarks were delivered at the annual Victims of Communism Commemoration in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2015.