Publicado el 07-23-2012
The Strange Death of
Oswaldo Payá in Cuba
This Sunday, July 22nd, Oswaldo Payá renowned opponent of the Cuban regime died in what seems to be a provoked accident a few miles outside the city of Bayamo in East Cuba. With Payá died dissident Harold Cepero Escalante, from Ciego de Avila, who was in the same auto. There were two survivors, a Swede who has not been identified and Spaniard Angel Carromero of the Popular Party. It should be clarified that Payá was not a dissident because he was never part of the regime. From the very first moment he declared himself an opponent of the Castro communist dictatorship.
Payá’s death brings sorrow to the Cuban opposition in and outside the island. He is the second opposition leader to die in the last year, after Laura Pollán, co-founder of the Ladies in White, who died in October.
Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement in the 1980s, emphasizing peaceful, civic action. He was arrested in March 1990 but released after a few days. In 1996, Payá wrote the text of the Varela Project – named after a leader of the Catholic Church in Cuba many decades ago – and began to collect signatures in 1998 to have the Cuban government hold a referendum to guarantee freedom of expression and assembly. A few days before former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visit to Cuba in May 2002, Payá delivered 11,020 signatures to the Popular Assembly and later on he delivered fourteen thousand more. Carter praised Payá’s democratic effort in a live TV speech in Cuba.
Payá was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In late 2002 the European Union awarded him its top human rights prize named after the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.
Cuba’s International Press Center told The Associated Press that witnesses said the driver of the rental car in which Payá was traveling lost control and struck a tree. But the version given by the family and others is that the car was hit by a truck to push it out of the road. The international community should demand a complete and accurate investigation from the Cuban authorities although, unfortunately, perhaps this will never happen because of the arbitrary characteristics of the Castro brothers’ regime.
May the soul of that exemplary Catholic and patriot who was Oswaldo Payá rest in God’s peace.