In response to Cuban authorities refusing to allow two former Latin American presidents, Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia and Andres Pastrana of Colombia, to enter the country to attend a democracy-related award ceremony on March 7, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“By preventing former Latin American presidents from entering Cuba, the Cuban government demonstrated its contempt for democracy and human rights,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Its action reflects the government’s fear of democratic activists at home and as well as of democratic leaders throughout the region.”
Jorge Quiroga, the former President of Bolivia and a Freedom House board member, and Andres Pastrana were to attend a ceremony to accept the Oswaldo Paya Award, named for a Cuban democracy activist killed in a suspicious car crash on the island in 2012. His daughter Rosa Maria Paya, president of the Latin America Youth Network for Democracy, oversees the annual prize. She is under heavy surveillance and faces ongoing intimidation in Cuba. The former presidents were to accept the award on behalf of IDEA, an organization comprised of former presidents from Latin America and Spain and dedicated to defending democratic freedoms and values in the region.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.