CubaBrief: The Case of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero

July 22, 2019 marked the 7th anniversary of the deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero killed under circumstances actively obscured by the Castro regime. Payá inspired countless freedom activists.


Four years ago on July 22, 2015 Javier El-Hage, and Roberto González of the Human Rights Foundation released a 147 page report titled The Case of Oswaldo Payá that concluded.

“Information that emerged in the months that followed and that was not at all considered by the Cuban court that convicted Carromero – consisting of witness statements, physical evidence and expert reports – suggest direct government responsibility in the deaths of Payá and Cepero. Specifically, the evidence deliberately ignored by the Cuban State strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012 were not an accident – as was quickly claimed by authorities in the state-owned media monopoly and later rubber – stamped by Cuba’s totalitarian court system – but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the State, acting (1) with the intent to kill Oswaldo Payá and the passengers in the vehicle he was riding, (2) with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm to them, or (3) with reckless or depraved indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to the life of the most prominent Cuban activist in the last twenty-five years and the passengers riding with him in the car.”

The full report by the Human Rights Foundation is available online here:
However, as important as it is to pursue justice and truth about how they died and the responsibility of the Castro regime, it is also important to remember how Oswaldo and Harold lived, the values, and struggle that they risked their lives for pursuing freedom for all Cubans.

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In September 2002, Oswaldo Payá received the National Democratic Institute’s 15th Annual W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award for his courageous efforts in promoting peaceful democratic change in Cuba. NDI also created this documentary about the Varela Project, entitled “Dissident: Oswaldo Payá and the Varela Project.” Below is the documentary with English subtitles.