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Emilio Milian Speech
Feb 6, 1977

[Reference: Dade County Florida OCB case # 3-92-22]

FEBRUARY 6, 1977


Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am deeply grateful for the honor that the Florida Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'Rith has bestowed upon me today: The Leonard L. Abess Human Relations Award.

I am proud to be the recipient of this important recognition for my community service, democratic  convictions, and firm beliefs. This is certainly an unforgettable and reward experience that comes during very difficult times for me.

The man that speaks before you today is a mutilated one.  The result of exercising his right to oppose terrorism, defend human freedom, and my speaking out against criminals and their crimes.

For this I have been condemned to death without a trial, without the right to defend myself - the jury has given its verdict in darkness and without my presence.  The execution could come at any time.  For me there is no opportunity to appeal my case or defend my rights.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a true case of discrimination that is rarely talked about.  It is a violation of my constitutional rights by a radical minority, a handful that uses terrorism to impose their ideas on the majority.  It is disgraceful that this is happening at a time when this country has just celebrated its 200th birthday.

Nine months have passed since the attempt on my life in which I lost both legs, and still the criminals have not yet been captured and judged.

The local authorities, because of the public outrage, have made considerable effort to find the terrorists.

However, the results are:  new murders, new threats, increased terrorism - a clear product of the impunity that the terrorists enjoy today.

Recently, just a few hours after a telephone conversation with Juan Jose Peruyero, during which he told me that he had strong evidence in my case as a result of his investigations, Peruyero, a strong anti-communist fighter, was assassinated in front of his home without having been able to relay the important message he had for me.

My hopes that the crime that took my legs would have been the last one, vanished.  Instead new threats have been made against my life and other Cuban leaders.

This week I was obligated, because of continued threats and a lack of police progress in my case, to send a telegram to The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C. which in part reads as follows:
"I received reliable information that I will be assassinated in the next few days.  As you remember, last April I notified the police about the fact that the terrorists would put a bomb in my car.  Three days later, on April 30th, it happened.  I lost my legs and almost my life..."

The prince that the terrorists asked to save my life is too high: to give away my dignity, my freedom, and to submit myself to silence.  I will not pay!

One death for the cause of freedom, however, is a sacrifice which has the power to mobilize millions of consciences.

The Cuban Apostle of Liberty, Jose Marti, said that: "Men march in two groups: those who hate and destroy, and those who love and construct".

I wish to walk with those who love and construct, but at the same time to bring awareness to a third group: those who stand still and do not participate because, unfortunately, in this age of fear, moral apathy has gotten a hold of people.

We need a spiritual awakening that will put us all on the side of justice in order to be able to confront decisively and openly the biggest and most dangerous challenge that our civilization faces: TOTALISTARISM and its favorite weapon: TERRORISM.

If I am silenced, in one way or another, it will constitute a blow to this democratic society.  It would be a moral triumph to the totalitarism that enslaves millions of human beings all over the world, among them my fellow Cubans and thousands of Jews in Russia, who suffer as well.

I, like most of the Cubans that live here, and possibly like many of you or your families, came to this country as refugees, escaping from communism, looking for a free society.

This handful of terrorists do not represent the Cuban community who loves democracy and justice as much as you and I.

That is why, here, I am asking for your help in getting the federal authorities' to take strong action to bring to justice this vicious group and end this type of discrimination, once and for all.

On the other hand, If I have to die now, this humanitarian award would take another dimension, a more meaningful expression of what it reads:

"In recognition of his dedicated service to the people of Florida: His personal leadership in improving inter-group relations and his opposition to extremism, bigotry and discrimination significantly advanced the cause of human rights in our democratic society".  Thank you very much.

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