News and Facts about Cuba

The Political Legacy of Oswaldo Paya

The Political Legacy of / 14ymedio
Posted on July 22, 2014

14YMEDIO, 22 July 2014 – On 22 July 2014, the opposition leader Oswaldo
Payá and the activist Harld Cepero died. Payá led the Christian
Liberation Movement and promoted the Project, which managed to
collect some 25,000 signatures to demand a national referendum.
of , of association, freedom of the press and of business, as
well as free elections, were some of the demands of that document signed
by thousands of Cubans.

Nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize, Payá was one of the most
visible and respected figures of the Cuban opposition. In 2002 the
European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for by
and he was able to tour several countries to offer information about the
situation on the island. He was also an official candidate for the
Prince of Asturias Award and received honorary degrees from Columbia
and the of Miami.

Paya’s death occurred in the vicinity of the city of Bayamo, while he
was traveling accompanied by the Spaniard Angel Carromero, the Swede
Aron Modig, and his colleague Harold Cepero. The Cuban government
explained the death as the result of a car , but his family and
many Cuban activists have maintained their doubts about that version. An
independent investigation into the events of that tragic July 22 has
been requested in various international forums, but Cuban authorities
have not responded to those requests.

On the second anniversary of the death of Oswaldo Payá, we asked
activists who shared his democratic ideals, “What is the greatest legacy
of the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement?”

Guillermo Fariñas, a psychologist and the winner of the European
Parliament’s Sakharov Prize

The main legacy left by Oswaldo Payá Sardinas for the Cuban nation,
beyond its geographical boundaries, was that he showed his people and
the world that the Cuban government breaks its own laws. When the Varela
Project submitted almost 25,000 signatures to the People’s Assembly on a
citizens’ petition for a plebiscite, the Cuban government refused to
hold one and in a crude way changed the Constitution. That in my opinion
was his main contribution: demonstrating that the Cuban government is
beyond anything that could be construed as the Rule of Law and that it
does not even respect its own draconian laws that support Castro’s
totalitarian state.

Manuel Cuesta Morúa, promoter of Constitutional Consensus

I see the legacy of Oswaldo Paya in his pioneering activity to
demonstrate that it was possible to generate civic trust towards
democratic change. Even he had many doubts that the public would respond
positively, would commit itself to a proposed change, especially at a
time like the 90s and early 2000s when it was even more difficult for
the civic movement. That’s what he sowed, what he left as a legacy,
which demonstrated this as a future possibility for all pro-democracy
activists on the island.

Dagoberto Valdés, director of the digital magazine Convivencia

First we recall our brother Oswaldo Paya with much love and affection
and I would especially emphasize the future, in his legacy, the legacy
he has rendered to all Cubans and so I think of the three gifts he left
us. First, his posture, his civic attitude. He was a citizen who forged
this society and who knew how to awaken a consciousness to fight for
democracy in a peaceful way, and from there came his second
contribution. Oswaldo was a man who fought tirelessly throughout his
life with peaceful methods without being provoked or coming to .
Finally—I have to say it—as someone who is also a Christian: he was a
man who understood that religion could not be alienated or be divorced
from the reality in which he lived, and that was why he was deeply
committed as a Christian to work for democracy in Cuba.

Jose Conrado Rodriguez Alegre, Catholic priest

Oswaldo has left us a legacy full of sincerity and honesty; a love
sacrificed for his country and a genuine commitment to the gospel of
Jesus Christ, a gospel embodied in social life, in political life, in
the good of others, everything that has to do with society as such. His
was a radical commitment to the gospel, but at the same time, as it
should be, to every human being. In remembering him, we must pay tribute
to the man he was in every dimension, while we feel the pain of the
brother we lost and we ask God that there be many others like him, men
who can give their lives for others, in silence, in humility, in the
midst of the misunderstandings of men, but certainly with a total
commitment and a quality of life that today illuminates the existence of
those of us still here.

José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)

There is no doubt that the late Oswaldo Payá left an everlasting
impression. We remember him as a determined and courageous Cuban who,
from an early date, assumed the method of nonviolent struggle with the
intention of bringing Cuba the rights and freedoms that we have lacked
for half a century. The work of the Christian Liberation Movement set a
tone in peaceful actions in favor of the fair, free, democratic and
prosperous Cuba that we all want, this was the side he was on.

The Varela Project, the citizen initiative launched by Oswaldo in which
so many of us became involved full-time, also set a tone in the actions
of the fighters for democracy. Initially, there were more than 11,000
people, in complex and difficult circumstances, circumstances that were
against those who collected signatures and against those who signed that
citizen petition. The fact that for the first time so many Cubans
defended a proposal, putting their names and identity data, supporting
the five points that made up the project, it was a real milestone.

Personally Oswaldo was a great friend with whom I shared both difficult
and happy moments. We are very mindful of that. The Cuba Democratic
Union (UNPACU) will render the homage he deserves on this second
anniversary of his tragic death.

***

Today, from 6:45 PM (Havana time) there will be the premiere of a
documentary about Oswaldo Paya of the Varela Hall of Ermita de la
Caridad in Miami, Florida. The video can also be viewed simultaneously
on www.vocesdecuba.com.

Source: The Political Legacy of Oswaldo Paya / 14ymedio | Translating
Cuba –
http://translatingcuba.com/the-political-legacy-of-oswaldo-paya-14ymedio/

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