The following is a letter to Cuban dissidents signed by 45 former dissidents of East-Central Europe:

The results of the past decade show that the path from a closed to an open society can be arduous. In spite of all the difficulties that have accompanied the transformation of our society, however, we have been constantly aware of the enormous gift that is freedom. We still keep in mind those fantastic moments when we realized that communist dictatorships have truly come to an end and that we have lived to see something many of us did not dare to hope for: The events in which we were taking part were not a sort of deviation from relentless historical necessity but a genuine revolution, fundamentally transforming our lives and bringing us a true liberation.

At this time, we also think of you, and we believe that your longing for a free Cuba will also be fulfilled one day. It is really you -- and not your jailers -- who realize Jose Marti's ideals in practice. It is you -- and not they -- who represent the best revolutionary traditions of their country and who -- together with other courageous Cubans dedicated to the cause of liberty, the inalienability of human rights and human dignity -- are the guarantee of a better future. Please accept our admiration, our thanks and our assurance that we are with you in your difficult situation. If our transformation experiences and the lessons we learned can serve as an inspiration -- or as good or bad examples -- for Cuba when the time comes, we are ready to help them, in a spirit of solidarity.

VACLAV HAVEL

President, Czech Republic

Prague