Human Rights Activists from Tampa Bay, Puerto Rico and Cuba, came together to speak out on the Right to Democracy at an event on December 10th to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sponsored by United for Human Rights, the event was held in the historic Ybor Square, current home of the Church of Scientology Tampa and was followed by a Human Rights Walk to the famous José Martí Park, led by fifty children who are members of Youth for Human Rights.
The purpose of United for Human Rights is to educate and enlighten young people and adults as to what human rights are and why they are the cornerstones of a free society according to the President, Gracia Bennish.
Kicking off the event and receiving an award for being the voice of human rights over the years, including during his six years in the Florida House and Senate as well as a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Congress, was Lincoln Diaz Balart.
“The right to democracy is also part of the international law of the Americas. The foundational document of the Interamerican system, the Charter of the Organization of American States, in its Chapter II, Article 3, Section (d), states that ‘The solidarity of the American States and the high aims which are sought through it require the political organization of those States on the basis of the effective exercise of representative democracy.’ We must never stop working until that right becomes a reality,” stated Lincoln Diaz Balart.
Additional speakers at the event included Guillermo Toledo whose father was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment for fighting against Castro’s government. Toledo left Cuba and his family at 15 and now has a successful legal practice and was the coordinator for the first National Cuban Summit in Puerto Rico in August of this year.
Toledo told the crowd gathered for the event that, “democracy doesn´t exist in a country where human rights are not respected, where only one political party exists, where there are not elections or elections are fraudulent, where there are not division of powers or where people do not directly elect their leaders or where people do not have participation on government decisions.”
Also speaking was Baptist Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, human rights defender and Cuban Coordinator for the newly formed Cubanos Unidos de Puerto Rico, led the crowd in pray stating, “Let´s postulate in the Name of God, Creator of all Men, that one day not far away, the blows of terror, oppression and suppression, reactivity, aberration, violent antagonism, apathy, insanity or irrationality, totalitarianism, hate, of an enturbulated world will be gone forever and every single place will be illuminated by the divine blow of freedom and democracy for everybody.”
Finally, Daniel Alvarez Sr., this years Hispanic Man of the Year and president of the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Hispanic Advisory Council, galvanized the crowd when he reminded them that, “We live in a relatively peaceful world surrounded by problems like whether our iPhones have good service and if someone liked our Facebook post or not. Could you imagine a world where you speak out against a government, and for the mere crime of expressing your thoughts, you are ripped from your family never to be heard from again? Could you imagine praying to the wrong god and having to face an angry majority that doesn’t agree with your theology? The truth is that we are never more than one complacent generation away from such a reality. A reality that unfortunately exists today for millions of people throughout the world.”
To learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights visit http://www.humanrights.com/#/home.
About United for Human Rights:
United for Human Rights is a non-profit organization that assists and unites individuals, educators, organizations and governmental bodies to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at local, regional, national and international levels. The organization has a wide range of educational materials that include a documentary entitled “The Story of Human Rights” and an educator’s guide. The material is used in schools, churches, and various civic groups to educate children and adults so that they understand their human rights, and, armed with that knowledge, work to implement and protect those rights. For more information visit, http://www.humanrights.com/#/home.