Mario Diaz-Balart’s Remarks at 2013 Democracy Award

Thank you so much. I will be very brief. As I’m sure you’ve heard they’ve called votes, so we all have to run over there now. However, I do want to, on this the 30th anniversary of NED, thank NED and all of you for honoring these four very special individuals who are heroes to all of us who love freedom, and I think to the entire world. Four individuals who the world can look to as shining examples of great sacrifice and great pain, and who are true heroes.

I’m reminded by Ronald Reagan from Westminster in his address in 1982, which led really to NED’s founding a year later, and let me quote President Reagan.

“The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.”

When you think of that goal, which NED exemplifies and lives by, and then you look at the four individuals that are being honored by NED, it’s very clear that NED has never forgotten its purpose or its goal. And I could go on forever about these four individuals, but my time is unfortunately short and I have to run for these votes.  I do want to mention Harold Cepero, the brilliant young leader of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement, the group which organized the Varela project. He was somebody who spent so much time and effort with Mr. Paya, and he gave his life for freedom and for that movement of freedom. And to be able to be here with all of you, and with Oswaldo’s daughter, who I’ve had the pleasure, privilege, and honor of meeting recently, is an honor that I will never forget.

So thank you NED. Thank you Carl. Thank all of you for keeping the spirit of what Ronald Reagan talked about alive, for honoring four great individuals who deserve the recognition, who deserve our thanks, our admiration, and our devotion, and must never be forgotten. So thank you very much, and I apologize that I have to go run and vote. Thank you.