The following is an excerpt from an April 30th speech by Cuban author and scholar Carlos Alberto Montaner upon receiving the "Juan de Mariana Defense of Freedom Award," in Madrid, Spain:
In totalitarian societies, the pain of not being free and moving about in disguise becomes somatic in various ways, from a knot in the throat to a diffuse malaise expressed by assorted neurotic behaviors.
What is freedom? It is the ability we have to make decisions based on our individual beliefs, convictions and interests, without external pressures.
Freedom is choosing the god who best fits our religious perceptions, or choosing no god if we don't feel the spiritual need to transcend.
Freedom is fearlessly offering our affection and loyalty to the people we love, or to the groups with which we feel a kinship.
Freedom is choosing without interference what we want to study, where and how we wish to live, the ideas that best reflect our vision of the social problems or the ideas that best seem to explain them.
Freedom is selecting the artistic expressions that please us the most, or, conversely, rejecting them without consequences.
Freedom is being able to undertake or renounce an economic activity without reporting to anyone, beyond the formalities established by law.
Freedom is spending our money as we see fit, acquiring the goods that satisfy us and disposing of our legitimate properties. Without freedom, the creation of wealth is weakened to the point of misery.
José Martí, the illustrious journalist who generated Cuba's independence, contributed another definition: "Freedom is the right of every man to be honest, and to think and speak without hypocrisy."
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