Prominent Communism detractor speaks

Former Polish President and Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa, a key player in helping bringing down communism in Eastern Europe, said Tuesday that there will soon be a political change in Cuba.

“It’s going to happen,” Walesa said, speaking through an interpreter. “But the world must be ready for the changes that will bring about,” he cautioned.

Walesa, the guest speaker at a Tuesday $100-a-plate luncheon of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba at the Freedom Tower, said the rest of the world needs to see the real Cuba — and not the island as “a tourist attraction.”

A union organizer and founder of the Solidarity Movement, Walesa led a nonviolent revolt against Poland’s communist system in the 1980s. He has been working with the Cuban American National Foundation on how lessons from his movement can best be applied to support the work of civil society groups in Cuba.

“What aspects of his movement can be applied to our struggles in Cuba?” asked Omar Lopez Montenegro, executive director of the foundation for human rights.

Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, who attended the luncheon, said, “There are many Lech Walesas” inside Cuba.

“What’s needed,” Hernandez said, “is for the world to join and support the struggle of the Cuban people, just as it did during Walesa’s fight against the Polish government. World support is very important.”

Walesa said he believes “our generation has the best chance to bring about change in the world” and help push for moral governments.

“Values are more important than tanks and rockets,” he said.

At the event, Walesa was presented with the keys to the city and the county.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado explained to Walesa the fitting significance of the Freedom Tower. “Thousands of Cuban exiles escaping communism were processed here,” he said of the tower, which is now owned by Miami Dade College.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa presented him with a key and thanked him. “God bless you for fighting for the right of democracy,” she told Walesa.

All proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the efforts of the Cuban human rights foundation and the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation.

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