CubaBrief: 10th Anniversary of Oswaldo Payá’s and Harold Cepero’s Deaths

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and Harold Cepero Escalante, two martyrs for democracy in the Americas, were killed ten years ago on July 22, 2012 by Castro’s secret police. In Washington D.C., and New York City, the anniversary was observed by elected officials and civil society groups.

Below are two short summaries about these two opposition leaders.

Oswaldo Payá was sixty years old when he was murdered by Castro regime agents. He was a family man and lay Catholic from Havana, an engineer, who in September 1988 founded the Christian Liberation Movement with fellow Catholics in the neighborhood of El Cerro. Over the next 23 years he carried out important campaigns to support human rights and a transition to democracy in Cuba. He spoke out against human rights violations and demand dignity for victims, even if it meant criticizing the US for the mistreatment of Al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Naval Base prison in 2002. Oswaldo was a consistent defender of human rights. He was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament in 2002.

Harold Cepero was 32 years old when he was killed along with Oswaldo. He was from the town of Chambas in Ciego de Ávila. At age 18, he began to study at the University of Camaguey, and in 2002, together with other students, Harold signed the Varela Project. It was an initiative that was legal within the existing Cuban constitution that had been authored by the Christian Liberation Movement. Despite this, Harold and other students were expelled from the university for signing it and sharing it with others. The secret police would organize a mob to “judge”, scream at, insult, threaten and expel the students who had signed the Varela Project. Following his expulsion on November 13, 2002, Harold wrote a letter in which he cautioned that “Those who steal the rights of others steal from themselves. Those who remove and crush freedom are the true slaves.”

Expelled from the university for signing the Varela Project together with other students. He entered a seminary and began studying to enter the priesthood, but left to join the Christian Liberation Movement and became a human rights activist. 

Carlos Alberto Montaner published a book review on July 22, 2022 of David E. Hoffman’s new book, “GIVE ME LIBERTY: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and His Daring Quest for a Free Cubaconcluded on the continuing validity of the Project Varela authored by Payá.

Ultimately, what Oswaldo Payá proposed with the “Varela Project” is extraordinarily valid. In 2003, 19 years ago, he proposed going “from the law to the law,” taking advantage of a space left by the current legislation to ask the nation if it insisted on communism or if it evolved towards other more intelligent and sensible ways of organizing coexistence.

The New York based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) issued a statement on July 22, 2022 quoting HRF Chief Advocacy Officer Roberto González on the 10 year anniversary.

“Ten years have passed since the loss of the man who best embodied the peaceful struggle for democracy and freedom in Cuba. Oswaldo Payá was the most prominent Cuban pro-democracy dissident at the time of his death, and he was killed under suspicion of foul play in the Western Hemisphere’s last remaining military dictatorship. The Cuban dictatorship, first under Fidel Castro and later under his brother Raúl, brutally persecuted Payá for demanding basic rights for his fellow citizens. For this Payá paid the ultimate price. Sadly, the regime, now under Castro’s lackey, Miguel Díaz-Canel, is still using the same cruel tactics it used against Payá as it carries out the worst campaign of repression against civil society in the past 20 years.”

On July 22, 2015, Javier El-Hage and Roberto González of the HRF released a 147-page report titled The Case of Oswaldo Payá that concluded Harold and Oswaldo’s deaths were “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.”

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in a statement issued on July 21, 2022 said that “Cases like Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero’s executions by State agents in 2012, demonstrate the lengths to which the regime is ready to go in order to shut down critical voices and dissidents that could potentially risk its permanence in power.”

On May 19, 2022 the initiative CubaDecide premiered a documentary short breaking down what happened to Oswaldo and Harold on July 22, 2012. It is available on Youtube.

“In a posthumous tribute to these pro-democracy leaders, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bipartisan resolution [ on July 22, 2022] honoring the life and legacy of Payá and Cepero. The resolution also urges the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States to issue a favorable decision in this case, one that recognizes evidence which establishes the culpability of the brutal and oppressive Castro regime. “

Kristina Arriaga, writing in Religion News Service, placed the the lives and legacies of Payá and Cepero in the context of how the Catholic Church both in Rome, and in Cuba dealt with the Christian Liberation Movement and the Varela Project, and the recent statements by Pope Francis.

Senator Rick Scott released a statement in commemoration of tenth anniversary of the assassination of the two Cuban opposition activists and calling for the Castro/Diaz Canel regime to be held “accountable for its atrocious crimes against humanity,” and that these killings are a reminder of “why we can’t stop fighting to see a new day of freedom, ‘Patria y Vida’ in Cuba.”

El Blog de Montaner, July 22, 2022

“Give Him Death”

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

It has been 10 years since Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were assassinated in Cuba. It was July 22, 2012. We’ll get to that later. Ángel Carromero, a Spaniard, and Aron Modig, a Swede, were, more or less, witnesses to the murder. Carromero was a delegate of Nuevas Generaciones (New Generations,) the youth organization of the Spanish Popular Party, and Modig was the president of Sweden’s Young Christian Democrats.

A few days ago, I received an excellent book by David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorialist for The Washington PostGIVE ME LIBERTY: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and His Daring Quest for a Free Cuba. The Pulitzer Prize is a guarantee that Hoffman knows how to investigate. He wouldn’t buy a pig in a poke.

For those unfamiliar with American history, “Give me Liberty” is a famous speech Patrick Henry delivered at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775, as the American Revolution was brewing. His words, which electrified the audience, ended with a well-known phrase in the country, “Give me Liberty… or give me death.”

The very well researched work, especially regarding the history of Payá, was sent to me by John Suárez, who substituted Frank Calzón, the founder and soul of the “Center for a Free Cuba,” a think tank devoted exclusively to freedom for Cubans. Perhaps it is the only one of its kind in a city where think tanks abound.

As I was saying, Give me Liberty convinced me of what Ofelia (Payá’s widow) and Rosa María (Payá’s eldest daughter and founder of “Cuba Decides,” a formidable collaborator in her father’s work) had already warned me about, that the regime assassinated Oswaldo and Harold, although it was not what Raúl Castro intended to do. He wanted to scare them, not kill them, but he condoned the action as soon as it was done. For Fidel and Raúl it was obvious where their loyalties lay. Hence the brutal cover-up, as always happens – the episodes of the sunken ships with their cargo of innocent children, the “13 de Marzo” and the “Canímar,” and the executions of General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Tony de la Guardia et al, are the best known, but not the only ones.

Cuban secret services, organized and trained by communist Germany’s Stasi in the 1960s and 1970s, have conspicuous and invisible ways of carrying out the persecution of any targeted individuals on the island. They wanted to give a lesson to the “arrogant Europeans” that were on the island to train Cubans in the details of the transition, so they chose the “conspicuous” formula.

A conspicuous vehicle, typical of the fearsome Cuban State Security, a red Lada, which followed them for a long time during the journey, even hitting the rear end of their car, causing the accident that would result in the death of the two Cubans (what a coincidence!)

It was not the first time that Oswaldo Payá had been followed conspicuously. An associate of Payá stated that days before the assassination of the opposition leader, together with Harold Cepero, they used the same procedure to try to instill fear in Payá, only that on that occasion they overturned his vehicle, and the car was left with the tires facing up.

That is why State Security (the Cuban political police) has an erratic behavior. On the one hand, they did what they have always done, what internally they felt authorized to do – terrorize dissidents. But in this case both people were killed.

If they died on the spot, or if they were killed later, in both cases there is a cover-up and very suspicious behavior. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, a great expert on Cuban affairs, assures that he was assassinated in an article (“How did Oswaldo Payá really die?”) published in the Wall Street Journal on April 7, 2013.

Why do they deny the family the opportunity to examine the body and perform an autopsy? Why don’t they respond to the accusations made by the jurists of “Human Rights Foundation”? What is the point of refusing to share the evidence with supporters and opponents if they have it at hand and it is a golden opportunity to shut up the opponents of the Cuban revolution for many years?

No one believes the story of the “revolutionary arrogance.” When it has been necessary, they have lowered their heads and swallowed their pride. Both are already dead, and the story can be told. Fraga Iribarne told Fidel Castro that they were going to hang him by the testicles if he did not change his behavior. Fidel left Galicia that early morning, but he did not reply to Fraga. He swallowed his response.

Today, and since the Chavista charity ended, the country has worsened and has become a pigsty due to the lack of every basic item (electricity, medicines, drinking water, food), to which is added the presence of dengue, Covid and of other similar misfortunes, as if the seven plagues of Egypt affected Cuba.

Ultimately, what Oswaldo Payá proposed with the “Varela Project” is extraordinarily valid. In 2003, 19 years ago, he proposed going “from the law to the law,” taking advantage of a space left by the current legislation to ask the nation if it insisted on communism or if it evolved towards other more intelligent and sensible ways of organizing coexistence. At that time Fidel Castro was still alive and, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity that his opponent gave him to rectify, he came out with a rude remark and accused him of being “the CIA by other means.”

He did not give him freedom. Instead, he gave him death.

http://www.elblogdemontaner.com/give-him-death/

Religion News Service, July 22, 2022

As Pope Francis cozies up to Raúl Castro, Cuban Catholics take another approach

The pope should tell the story of Rosa María Payá, a 33-year-old Catholic activist for freedom.

Pope Francis, left, walks next to Cuban President Raul Castro, at the Jose Marti airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Pope Francis will meet for two hours with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill during a brief stop en route to Mexico. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

July 22, 2022

By Kristina Arriaga

Religion News Service

(RNS) — For months, Pope Francis has dismissed reports that he plans to retire for the good of the church. His resignation cannot come soon enough for the people of Cuba.

“I love the Cuban people very much,” Francis said in an interview with TeleSur on July 12. “I also confess that I maintain a human relationship with Raúl Castro.”

His words come at a pivotal moment, as Cuba appears to teeter between democracy and its more than half-century-old status quo. Raúl Castro, who inherited the Communist regime in Havana from his brother Fidel, is a dictator whose strength is built on fear. It’s a fear felt viscerally by Cubans for decades, though recently that fear appears to be finally fading.

The pope also hailed Cuba as “a symbol,” as a country with “a great history.”

RELATED: EU Parliament urges Vatican to defend human rights in Hong Kong

These comments got little attention, as the global media was consumed at the time with those rumors of Francis’ resignation. But for the Cuban people, whose freedom has been forgotten throughout this “great history,” the comments served to reinforce the Castro regime’s legitimacy.

A different Catholic approach to the regime is embodied in Rosa María Payá, a 33-year-old, strikingly charismatic Catholic woman who has inherited a pedigree that is as proud as it is heavy.

She is the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, who, as a young hospital technician in 1986, called on the Catholic Church to stand up for freedom and advocate for the reinstatement of the people’s rights — to speak out, to assemble, to read and think as they pleased. His declaration came the same year the Cuban bishops held their first national gathering since the 1959 revolution that brought the Castros to power.

Instead, then-Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, held secret meetings with Fidel Castro and embraced the regime.

Undeterred, Oswaldo Payá spent the ensuing years going door to door, gathering signatures to trigger a popular referendum on five proposals guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom of association, electoral reforms, the right to own private businesses and amnesty for political prisoners. According to the Cuban constitution, 10,000 signatures are required; in 2002 Payá presented the national assembly with 11,020.

He knew these proposals were a symbolic gesture — but a powerful one. Payá called every signature “an act of liberation.”

The initiative was called the Varela Project, after the 19th-century Catholic priest, Félix Varela, who had fought for independence and the abolition of slavery in Cuba. For his advocacy, Varela was sentenced to death and was forced to flee to the United States. 

The Varela Project caught the attention of former President Jimmy Carter, who visited Cuba and spoke about it during his remarks on Cuba’s state television station. Carter’s words fueled Payá’s movement, and he and his collaborators gathered thousands more signatures hidden from the ever-threatening regime by a clandestine network of nuns.

The movement also earned Payá international recognition, including the prestigious European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Václav Havel, the former Czech dissident, befriended Payá and later nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As Payá’s international recognition grew, so did the Castro regime’s sense of vulnerability: This July 22 marks 10 years since Oswaldo Payá was killed in a mysterious car crash.

His daughter has picked up where her father left off. Today, from Florida, she leads a grassroots movement called Cuba Decide. In a country where communications are routinely cut off, they operate through underground channels.

In July 2021, Cubans rose up in the largest anti-government protests the country had seen in decades. The government’s response was swift. Peaceful demonstrators, including 17 minors, were subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture and draconian prison terms.

But the Cuban people remain defiant. A year later, the peaceful protests continue — as recently as July 14, hundreds of people came out to demand their freedom. In response, the government cut off the Internet. The next morning, authorities reportedly went door to door — not to collect signatures, as Oswaldo Payá did, but to round up protesters.

Against this backdrop, Rosa María Payá says the pope’s remarks pained her. His Holiness, she said, is leaving the Cuban people “defenseless.”

What the people need most desperately, she said, is the support of the international community. It is unthinkable, she said, to praise a history that is stained by the torture, imprisonment and killing of tens of thousands of faithful Catholics.

“The Cuban regime is a symbol, yes,” Payá said in a recent Instagram video. “A symbol of pride, of greed, a symbol of de-Christianization, a symbol of death.”

(Kristina Arriaga is a former member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and was vice chair of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/as-pope-francis-cozies-up-to-ra%C3%BAl-castro-cuban-catholics-take-another-approach/ar-AAZRVhD?ocid=entnewsntp&pc=U531&cvid=3ec252e1d3324cf3d8feda2dad060415

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, July 21, 2022

VOICES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Repression in Cuba: First year anniversary of the July 11th protests

By Angelita Baeyens, Rosana Lezama Sanchez

July 21, 2022

Civic Space and Activists

One year ago, the Cuban population took to the streets to protest the increasingly deteriorating socio-economic and institutional conditions in the country. Cubans, both in Cuba and around the world, protested the authoritarian regime, the undermining of civil liberties and fundamental rights, as well as the profound socio-economic crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s mismanagement of the public health emergency in the country. The country had not experienced this kind of social protests since the early 1990’s during the “Maleconazo” where protesters also voiced demands for freedom. These new waves of protests in 2021 were led by everyday citizens, activists, academics, students, and journalists, and became one of the most significant events in recent Cuban history.

The Cuban government responded to the protests by systematically repressing peaceful protesters, which resulted in the arbitrary detention and judicialization of hundreds of Cubans. The crackdown on protests did not only serve to punish those who participated in them, but also as a deterrent to the broader population, and particularly to those who may intend to take part in public demonstrations against the government in the future.

The use of repression to dissuade the peaceful protests was not an isolated event. On the contrary, it occurred within the general context of the closing of civic space in Cuba, through the systematic repression of civil liberties and criminalization of dissent. This context has worsened in the country over the years, and civil society organizations have been one of the main targets of this persecution, resulting in the restriction of their work by the use of factual and legal measures, such as the constant obstacles for organizations to register, as well as a wide range of offenses established in the Cuban penal code meant to restrict fundamental freedoms and civic space.

Cubalex, a national human rights organization, is an emblematic case that illustrates the Cuban government’s criminalization of civil society. Cubalex is one of the country’s most important organizations, as it has assisted and represented, at the national and international levels, victims of gross human rights violations. However, due to their work, over the years, members of the organization have been targeted by the government and have been subjected to threats, arbitrary detentions, abuse, and intimidation due to their work. This, in turn, has generated the exile of members of Cubalex and other civil society organizations.

In this context, social leaders have also been historically targeted by the Cuban government due to their activism in the country. Cases like Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero’s executions by State agents in 2012, demonstrate the lengths to which the regime is ready to go in order to shut down critical voices and dissidents that could potentially risk its permanence in power.

On the first anniversary of July 11th, over 700 people who participated in the peaceful protests continue to be arbitrarily detained; some have already been sentenced to years in prison after being subjected to sham trials without any respect to their due process, including the right to be judged by an independent judiciary. During this time, their families have reported the lack of a fair trial and other human rights abuses against the victims while under custody, including torture and cruel and inhuman treatment. Some of the families have even reported threats and acts of intimidation for making public calls and demanding the freedom of their family members. Regardless of the dire situation, they continue to advocate for their loved ones and for those who continue to face abuse and arbitrary detention for dissenting and speaking out.

Cuba continues to be immersed in a profound socio-economic crisis, while the government continues to further restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms; thus, the criminalization of social protest continues today and is likely to worsen in the future. Numerous international mechanisms for the protection of human rights have continuously called for an end to the persecution, criminalization and State violence in Cuba. In this sense, the role of the international community, including countries committed to the strengthening of democracy in the region, remains critical to achieve some measure of truth, justice, and accountability, as well as effective reparations for the victims.

https://rfkhumanrights.org/voices-articles/repression-in-cuba-first-year-anniversary-of-the-july-11th-protests

Marco Rubio, US Senator of Florida, July 22, 2022

Rubio, Durbin, Cruz, Menendez Introduce Resolution Honoring Late Cuban Pro-democracy Leaders

Jul 22, 2022

A decade ago, pro-democracy activists Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero died in a brutal car crash after being followed by security agents of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. An early critic of the Castro regime, Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, or MLC for its initials in Spanish) to promote democracy and civil liberties through non-violent resistance in Cuba.

In a posthumous tribute to these pro-democracy leaders, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring the life and legacy of Payá and Cepero. The resolution also urges the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States to issue a favorable decision in this case, one that recognizes evidence which establishes the culpability of the brutal and oppressive Castro regime.

“The criminal nature of the Castro dictatorship has silenced the lives of many Cubans. Today, we pay tribute to the tireless leadership and self-less patriotism of two Cuban pro-democracy leaders whose lives were taken too soon. Oswaldo Payá’s and Harold Cepero’s legacy and courage lives in Cuba’s new generations, as we saw last year during the civic 11J protests.” — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

“Ten years ago courageous Cuban patriot Oswaldo Paya, who sought peaceful democratic change through provisions in the country’s constitution, was killed when likely run off the road by trailing government thugs. I have long called for an honest accounting of his suspicious death, including an independent investigation by the InternAmerican Commission on Human Rights. On this anniversary I once again honor his work and call on the Cuban regime to account for his death and bring an end to its tragic repression of the Cuban people.” — U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

“Ten years ago, Cuba’s brutal regime permanently silenced an icon in the Cuban democracy movement. Oswaldo Paya dedicated his life to opposing Cuba’s dictatorship and to standing up for the human rights of the Cuban people. For the last 10 years, the regime has engaged in a brazen cover up and continuously blocked an independent investigation into Paya’s death. Given the complete lack of justice in Cuba, this bipartisan resolution reaffirms the international community‘s resolute demands for accountability for Oswaldo’s murder.” — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2022/7/english-espa-ol-after-rubio-s-criticism-state-department-recognizes-china-as-state-sponsor-of-human-trafficking

Rick Scott, Florida’s U.S. Senator, July 22, 2022

Sen. Rick Scott: Our Fight For ‘Patria Y Vida’ in Cuba Remains as Strong as the Legacy of Oswaldo Payá

July 22, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott released the following statement in commemoration of tenth anniversary of the assassination of the Cuban dissidents and freedom fighters Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero Escalante, by the illegitimate communist Cuban regime.

This month, Senator Scott and others across the world marked the one year anniversary of the July 11th demonstrations calling for liberty and democracy across Cuba. Senator Scott continues to call on President Biden to condemn the human rights abuses of the illegitimate communist Cuban regime, end his policy of appeasement of Castro and Díaz-Canel and support Senator Scott’s bicameral DEMOCRACIA Act to hold the regime accountable through severe sanctions and unprecedented financial pressure.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Today, I join Rosa Maria Payá and the freedom-loving people of Cuba in commemorating the tenth anniversary of the ruthless murder of the Cuban dissidents and freedom fighters Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero Escalante at the hands of the evil Castro Regime. Oswaldo Payá was fearlessly dedicated to seeing freedom and democracy return to Cuba and it terrified the regime. Sadly, Oswaldo and Harold are just two of the countless lives cut short by the illegitimate communist Cuban regime. For decades, we have seen how the cowardly regime oppresses, attacks, kidnaps, tortures, jails and murders the brave people of Cuba who only ask for their God-given basic human rights. The oppression must end. The United States must lead the freedom-loving nations of the world in the defense of human rights in Cuba and Latin America.

“Our fight to regain democracy and freedom in Cuba, defend human rights across the hemisphere and hold the Castro/Díaz-Canel regime accountable for its atrocious crimes against humanity remains as alive and strong as the legacy of Oswaldo Payá. As we honor the lives of Oswaldo and Harold today, we are again reminded why we can’t stop fighting to see a new day of freedom, ‘Patria y Vida’ in Cuba.”

https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/2022/7/sen-rick-scott-our-fight-for-patria-y-vida-in-cuba-remains-as-strong-as-the-legacy-of-oswaldo-pay

Human Rights Foundation, July 22, 2022

The 10th Anniversary of Oswaldo Payá’s Death

July 22, 2022

NEW YORK (July 22, 2022) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) joins the Cuban civil society in honoring the life and legacy of Oswaldo Payá on the 10th anniversary of his death. Payá was the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and founder of the Varela Project, a citizen-led initiative that gathered signatures for a legislative proposal aimed at bringing back democracy and protecting basic liberties in Cuba. The initiative was a great success, obtaining more than 10,000 signatures. Unfortunately, it elicited massive retaliation from Fidel Castro and the ruling Communist Party. Many of the leaders of Payá’s movement were targeted by the regime during the Black Spring of 2003 — a brutal wave of repression that sent dozens of pro-democracy activists and intellectuals to prison, in some cases for several years. Payá himself continued to be harassed by the Castro dictatorship, which eventually led to his death on July 22, 2012.

“Ten years have passed since the loss of the man who best embodied the peaceful struggle for democracy and freedom in Cuba. Oswaldo Payá was the most prominent Cuban pro-democracy dissident at the time of his death, and he was killed under suspicion of foul play in the Western Hemisphere’s last remaining military dictatorship,” said HRF Chief Advocacy Officer Roberto González. “The Cuban dictatorship, first under Fidel Castro and later under his brother Raúl, brutally persecuted Payá for demanding basic rights for his fellow citizens. For this Payá paid the ultimate price. Sadly, the regime, now under Castro’s lackey, Miguel Díaz-Canel, is still using the same cruel tactics it used against Payá as it carries out the worst campaign of repression against civil society in the past 20 years.”

Although the regime actively obfuscated the investigation into Payá’s death, an exhaustive legal report by HRF concluded that his death was likely deliberately caused by State security forces who were surveilling him. To this day, his family continues to seek justice and promote democracy and human rights in Cuba. His daughter, Rosa María Payá, a former Oslo Freedom speaker, leads the citizen movement Cuba Decide, a pro-democracy organization that builds on the work of the Varela Project. Rosa María continues to work tirelessly not only to realize her father’s vision of a free Cuba, but also to launch an impartial investigation into his death to finally obtain justice and closure.

“As dire as the situation seems in Cuba today, we can take solace in the fact that Oswaldo Payá’s vision is still alive and well, as evidenced by the bravery of thousands of Cubans who have stood up to the tyranny of the regime, particularly in the past year,” said González. “Today, on the anniversary of Payá’s death, we call on the democratic world to honor his legacy and stand with all the Cuban’s who continue echoing his calls for a democratic transition and the respect of basic rights in their country.”

https://hrf.org/hrf-joins-cuban-civil-society-in-honoring-oswaldo-paya-on-the-10th-anniversary-of-his-death/