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The former president of Poland Lech Walesa encouraged on Monday in Miami the “freedom fighters” in Cuba to look for “new tactics,” because “you cannot use methods that have failed.” Walesa further stressed that the key is to get organized, something that, he stressed, communism neither wants nor allows.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Walesa expressed his confidence in being able to participate soon in a “great march for the victory over communism” in Havana, but warned Cuban exiles and opponents that time is running out.
“I am almost 80 years old, hurry up,” said Walesa, who will turn 79 on the 29th of this month, amid applause from those attending an event at the museum of Brigade 2506, as the fighters in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion (1961) to overthrow the communist regime then headed by Fidel Castro are known.
Walesa was introduced as “the man who taught us how to defeat communism” in a crowded hall adorned with posters bearing the word Solidarity, the name of the independent trade union he founded in communist Poland and led to the fall of the Polish communist regime in the late 1980s.
Dressed casually in a T-shirt that read Constitution in Polish, the former president (1990-1995) acknowledged that without the help of Pope John Paul II, the exit of communism from Poland in particular and from the Eastern bloc, in general, would have taken longer and would probably have involved more violence.
Asked what Pope Francis can do for Cuba, Walesa responded by saying that he remains a practicing Catholic and therefore believes that it is the Holy Spirit who rules the Church.
“We have to understand the times that are coming. When we understand them, we will find the answer,” he said to EFE’s question, which was referring to the Cuban exile’s criticism of Francis, whom they reproach for not being critical of the Cuban government.
“The Holy Spirit gives us the popes of each era,” he added.
Walesa reiterated that the simplest recommendation to be able to defeat communism is to organize well.
But he explained that it is very difficult to do so because of the fear that authoritarian regimes instill in their citizens, a fear that in Poland was sustained not only by the imprisonment, torture and death of opponents, but also by the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.
“Soviet nuclear missiles were aimed at major Polish cities,” he stressed.
With a sense of the world, he said, in 20 years of trying to organize the struggle for freedom in Poland, he managed to get at most 20 people to join him, and of them “two were infiltrated agents of the state.”
The big push was the election of the Polish Pope Karol Wojtyla, who assumed the pontificate under the name of John Paul II. “The pope was the one who awakened the people and brought them to me,” he said.
Solidarity was able to take advantage of the large number of people that John Paul II’s first visit to his native country and the religious fervor it unleashed for the cause of freedom, Walesa said.
It was also worth his pleas for help to Western Europe, the United States, and the world in general, he said as images of his meetings with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, and other world leaders were projected in the hall.
A journalist asked the former Polish president if he still believed, as he said decades ago, that the United States has allowed the Cuban regime to endure in order to have it as a “Jurassic Park” style attraction.
Walesa stressed that, although “Cuba is a mosquito that bites you in the nose”, the United States “does nothing”, and promised to continue working with Cuban “patriots” to find ways that will lead to the triumph of the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba.
When asked to make a concrete suggestion to ignite the spark of rebellion in Cuba, he said that opponents should take advantage of some massive act of the dictatorship and transform it into an act for freedom, or some massive sporting event.
“I have to study it well, we have to keep looking for ways,” he stressed.