Press Advisory: Center for a Free Cuba calls on European leaders to ask Diaz-Canel about murdered Sakharov laureate Oswaldo Payá, and  for the release of over a thousand Cuban political prisoners

Press Advisory

Center for a Free Cuba calls on European leaders to ask Diaz-Canel about murdered Sakharov laureate Oswaldo Payá, and for release of over thousand Cuban political prisoners

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Center for a Free Cuba. Washington DC. June 21, 2023. On June 20th, Pope Francis welcomed Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, first secretary of the Communist Party, to the Vatican. General Raul Castro’s hand-picked president is expected to meet with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron over the next few days. The Center for a Free Cuba calls on European leaders to ask Diaz-Canel about murdered Sakharov laureate Oswaldo Payá, and for the release of over a thousand Cuban political prisoners.

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, who traveled to Cuba in February 2023 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit, stated that Pope Francis wishes for the release of the young Cubans jailed in 2021 for demonstrating in the streets of Cuba.

There are currently over 1,250 political prisoners in Cuba, and 39 of them, according to Havana, are minors. They are being kept in conditions that rise to the level of torture.

However the news reporting of the encounter between Pope Francis and Diaz-Canel does not mention the revelation by the  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that Oswaldo Payá, a practicing Catholic, Sakharov laureate of the European Union who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 and 2011, was murdered by agents of the Cuban government on July 22, 2012.

The IACHR on June 12, 2023 made public its “Report on Admissibility and Merits No. 83/23 of Case 14,196” in which it held the State of Cuba responsible for the extrajudicial killings of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

Mr. Diaz-Canel, committed to continuing on the same path as his predecessors Fidel and Raúl Castro, on July 11, 2021 when Cubans across the island demanded an end to dictatorship and responded with violent repression that jailed hundreds, and killed an unknown number of Cubans.

Two that are known are Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, a 36-year-old singer shot in the back by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Havana on July 12, the second day of nationwide protests, and Christian Díaz, age 24, beaten to death while in police custody after being detained on July 12th.

“Mr. Diaz-Canel has blood on his hands, and represents a regime that assassinated the Christian Liberation Movement’s founder Oswaldo Payá and its youth leader Harold Cepero, and gave the order to crackdown on nonviolent protests in July 2021 causing the deaths of Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, and Christian Díaz, while jailing hundreds more, and now has Cuban soldiers fighting alongside Russians in the illegal war in Ukraine was received by Pope Francis yesterday, and is expected to meet with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and French President Emmanuel Macron. I hope that these Western leaders, and the media covering these meetings with the Cuban president will question him about these crimes, and ask him, as Pope Francis did, when he will release the over a thousand prisoners of conscience currently jailed in Cuba,” said John Suarez, executive director, Center for a Free Cuba.

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