Human Rights Foundation suggests “Direct Responsibility of the Cuban Regime” in the death of Paya / 14ymedio

Presentation of the HRF about the death of Oswaldo Payá. (@RosaMariaPaya)

Presentation of the HRF about the death of Oswaldo Payá. (@RosaMariaPaya)

14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2015 – The human rights defense organization Human Rights Foundation (HRF) thinks that the Cuban government has “direct responsibility” in the deaths of dissidents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, according to the conclusion of an 88-page report presented this Wednesday at the University of Georgetown (Washington), on the third anniversary of the death of the opponents.

“The accident (…) is the result of an automobile incident deliberately caused by agents of the State,” assert the authors of the report, lawyers Javier El-Hage and Roberto C. Gonzalez, both of HRF. According to the lawyers, there was “intention to assassinate Oswaldo Payá and the passengers who were travelling with him.” The authors of the report also think there was the intention of “causing them serious bodily injury” or that the event “was carried out with negligence and/or extreme indifference – and an unjustified high risk – for the life of the activist.”

The foundation highlights the “errors” and the “contradictions” of the official investigation into the events of 22 July 2012, documenting numerous violations, such as a faulty autopsy of the “most prominent pro-democracy activist in Latin America in the last 25 years,” according to the president of the HRF, Thor Halvorssen.

The report maintains that the evidence, deliberately overlooked by the official investigation, suggests that it was not a traffic accident and implicates the government in the crash between the vehicles.

The organization believes that the Spaniard Angel Carromero, who was driving the car in which Payá was travelling and who is now on probation in his country, was ”obliged” to confess himself to be responsible, and that Cuban Justice paid no attention to the complaints of the dissident’s relatives, excluding them from the trials. Carromero himself, who was then a leader of the youth branch of Spain’s Popular Party (PP), has asserted on several occasions that the accident was an “attack” orchestrated by the Island’s regime. Those responsible for the report insist that Carromero had no access to a lawyer for weeks and that, later, he was forced to be represented by lawyers with close ties to the Government.

“The State of Cuba is responsible internationally for having violated Angel Carromero’s right to an effective legal defense,” says the report, since the authorities refused his defense access to the case file and the opportunity to present new evidence.

“Cuba is not a democratic State in which individual rights are respected or in which there exists independence among the powers of the State,” warns the report, which labels trials that involve dissidents as “a mere formality” in which “all the actors (prosecutor, judge and defense attorney) direct their work towards legitimizing the Government’s decision and not towards the search for the historical truth of events and the punishment of the responsible parties.” The investigation and the later trial in the death of Payá and Cepero were not exceptions, having been carried out in a “context of complete authoritarianism.”

Cuban authorities also did not permit the family of the deceased to speak with the two survivors of the crash (Angel Carromero and the Swede Jens Aron Modig), and three years after the event, they have still not communicated the result of the autopsy. The dissident’s relatives received the clothes that he was wearing the day of the incident already washed which kept them from opting for an independent examination.

“Havana’s authorities believed that it was necessary to destroy my father,” said the daughter of the opponent, Rosa Maria Payá, present at the University of Georgetown. “This report will be an important tool against the impunity of those authorities,” she added. According to the activist, the document “is the end of the first part” of her efforts, and the process to clarify what happened to her father “is only beginning” with “the analysis of the evidence” in the hands of the family.

“We plan to use this report as a tool in front of all the international bodies,” said Payá, who calls on Cuban authorities to release her father’s and Cepero’s autopsy reports.

The authors of the report accuse Havana of having violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

Translated by MLK

“Paya Was An Example Of Dedication And Persistence” / 14ymedio

Oswaldo Payá holding the Transitional Program for political change in Cuba. (EFE)

Oswaldo Payá holding the Transitional Program for political change in Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2015 — Three years after the death of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, 14ymedio has collected the opinions of some Cuban activists who knew the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement. They is people who shared with him projects and risks, who admired or were inspired by his civic labor. Let these seven testimonies serve to approach the legacy of a man who devoted his best years to achieving greater rights and freedoms for the citizenry.

Father José Conrado

He has left us a testimony of life, a consistent life in service to his people, a courageous life that knew how to respond to the difficulties and the circumstances of the times. A life true to his convictions of faith and his love for his country until his last moment. It is a testimony that we will never forget and at the same time something to be deeply grateful for, because men like him are the ones who are needed, men like him are those who build a people from within.

Martha Beatriz Roque

It is very difficult to summarize in a few lines his life and the legacy he left us. First of all we have to note his actions as a father, a husband and a member of the Catholic Church. He knew how to pass on an excellent education for his children and to sow love in his family. Now we have Rosa María [his daughter], who is continuing his struggle and also persevering in seeing that justice is done for those who murdered him. His life’s companion, Ofelita, is doing the same thing.

Payá witnessed in favor of democracy and his legacy is reflected in the continuity of his work. These men who have acted with dignity in life, in times as difficult as those we Cubans have had to live through, one can say they have not died, they continue with us.

Jose Daniel Ferrer

I always had great respect and great affection for him, and joined in with the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) for many years, especially on Project Varela. I would like to highlight one way he is remembered in the eastern region, especially in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The term that we are referred to by, whether we are members of UNPACU, of CID, of the Republican Party, the Citizens for Democracy, or any other organization, is “Varelistas” [“supporters of Project Varela”], and not because of a direct relation to Felix Verala, who well deserves it for his contribution to Cuban nationality, but precisely because of Project Varela, which not only collected thousands of signatures at that time, but also left a lasting impact.

So that is what people call us there and, on occasion, even our worst enemies do. So every time they call us Varelistas, they are remembering Payá.

Dagoberto Valdes

The first thing I want to point out about the legacy Oswaldo left us is the integrity of one person who throughout his life remained consistent with what he thought and believed. Secondly, he left us what in my view is the most important civic exercise of the last decades: the Varela Project. Third, he left us the perseverance of a man who believed in the cause of freedom and democracy for Cuba and who dedicated his entire life to it.

Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart

His legacy goes far beyond even the Christian Liberation Movement he founded. His precious heritage belongs to Cuba and is found in the shared yearning for democracy and respect for human rights, for all individuals who think as he thought. For this he will always be respected. When Cuba can enjoy democracy, he will not be with is, but his teachings will be.

Felix Navarro Rodriguez

He was a great leader in the peaceful Cuban opposition because he accomplished what no one had been able to accomplish, which was to collect those thousands of signatures supporting Project Varela and doing it within the very laws of Cuba.

Still today I feel I see him, with the enthusiasm that characterized him, seeking unity among Cubans so that we can manage the change in a peaceful way, so that the people would be the owners of their own opinions and be able to put their rights into practice. It fills us with great satisfaction to have been able to be at the side of a man like him at those moments before the Black Spring of 2003, and to continue working with his daughter Rosa María today.

Miriam Leyva

He was a very self-sacrificing person who was characterized by believing in what he was doing. He was convinced that he could fight for a better life for Cubans to achieve progress and democracy for Cuba. He was a practicing Catholic and also a tireless worker. In his specialty, medical equipment repair, he was acknowledged and respected, not only in his workplace but in all public health facilities where he went to provide services.

Payá was an example of self-sacrifice and above all persistence, so his legacy extends beyond the MCL and Project Varela; an example as a human being, as a Cuban. That is what remains in my memory and I appreciate all the years I knew him in the midst of such difficult situations.

Cuban Embassy In The US Refuses To Receive A Letter From Activist Rosa María Payá / 14ymedio

The activist Rosa María Payá in front of the new Cuban embassy in Washington. (Twitter)

The activist Rosa María Payá in front of the new Cuban embassy in Washington. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2015 — The activist Rosa María Payá tried to deliver a letter to the newly inaugurated Cuban embassy in Washington on Tuesday. The daughter of the late Oswaldo Payá, however, denounced through her Twitter account that the officials would not open the door and sent a police car.

The letter, from her mother Ofelia Acevedo, was addressed to the Cuban Minister of Health, Roberto Morales, to request the autopsy reports for Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

“The Cuban embassy has not opened, it continues to be closed for Cubans. I try to deliver a letter and nobody answers,” she writes. “Despotism is called diplomacy,” she adds in another message.

The activist also reports that some officials were watching her through the glass.

Rosa María Payá said that vice consul Armando Bencomo refused to receive the letter, although he said he would “communicate with the embassy” [so that they would open the door, but it never happened].

Monday, the activist demonstrated in front of the new Cuban embassy. “This is only the beginning of diplomatic relations that up to now have meant conversations between two elites, people who weren’t there and who don’t represent the Cuban people because the Cuban people never elected them,” she said.

Cubans Expect Thaw to Lead to Improvements For All The People / 14ymedio

The new embassy of Cuba in the USA. (14ymedio)

The new embassy of Cuba in the USA. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 20 June 2015 – This Monday, a group of protestors outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington accompanied the speech by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez with shouts of “Cuba sí, Castro No”; “Freedom for Cuba”; “Democracy.” While some chanted, “Viva Cuba,” others responded, “Freedom.”

At some points “Castro sí” was also hears. “Never in this country would I have imagines I would hear something like this,” said a Cuban who came to renew his passport in the consulate.

“I’m here to support the human and civil rights of the Cuban people who have not had free elections for more than 60 years,” said Laura Martinez, a Cuban-American, 26, gathered outside the building that, since 1977, housed the Cuban Interests Section in the United States. “Although I support the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, I want the human, civil and political rights of the Cuban people to be respected and we are demanding that right now,” she added.

The activist Rosa Maria Paya believes that “this is only the beginning of diplomatic relations that so far has meant the conversation between two elites, of people who were not there and don’t represent the Cuban people, because the Cuban people never elected them.”

“We are expecting that, at least in their discourse, those people who approach Cuba converse not only with the elites in power, but that they also support the right of Cubans to decide, of legislation conducive to [exiles’] visit to the island, and the extension of immunity from violence to those who demonstrate [against the regime] inside and outside of the island,” she adds.’

The writer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo stressed the importance of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana also resulting in greater freedom for independent journalists. He asks for “a more inclusive future,” in which “the chokehold that the regime keeps on civil society is loosened.”

MCl Leader for the Freedom of a Cuba without Castros / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Interview with Rosa Maria Paya

Leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and Cuba Decides

From El Pais

 “The United States is negotiating with the Cuban caste.”

Cuban regime opponent, daughter of Oswaldo Para, speaks of the shortcomings of the thaw.

Alba Casas

Madrid, 3 July 2015, 23:03 CEST

To Rosa Maria Paya (b. January 1989, Havana), daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya and a member of the Christian Liberation Movement — founded by her father — is not afraid to say the thaw will not end “the embargo on freedoms” that the Cuban Executive imposes on its inhabitants. “The United States is talking with the Government and those surrounding it. But civil society is left outside. It is a privilege reserved for the Cuban caste. For the rest, it is a situation of exclusion,” she says. Continue reading

“The Cuban people must get their voice back to begin the transition” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Rosa Maria Paya

Rosa María Payá. (14ymedio)

Rosa María Payá. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 17 May 2012 — In the summer of 2012, Rosa María Payá had just started out in the political arena. She moved among the young people who animated the Varela Project, El Camino del Pueblo (The Path of the People) and the Heredia Project, initiated by the Christian Liberation Movement founded by her father, the dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Now 26 years old, she has two missions that consume most of her time. The first, is demanding an independent investigation into the death of her father, for the government to explain an “accident” which she believes was an attack. The second is leading the project Cuba Decides, which promotes a referendum on a proposal to hold free elections in the country.

Escobar: Your departure from Cuba came less than two years ago. How do you see the situation in the country upon your return?

Payá: We left Cuba under political persecution. The persecution against my father and my family before the attack, that ended his and Harold Cepero’s lives, continued after they died and became increasingly intense. They chased my brother when he was driving my dad’s car and did so in cars that have the same make as those that were chasing my father and that finally rammed [the car he was traveling in] on 22 July 2012. In addition, they did it with uniformed people, so that everyone — not only my family but also the local people — was aware of it. Continue reading

Mass in Cuba for Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero / Cubanet, Ignacio Gonzalez and Osmel Almaguer

cubanet square logoCubanet, Ignacio Gonzalez and Osmel Almaguer, Havana, 13 May 2015 – A Mass for the deceased Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, activist, was held this afternoon at the Church of Los Pasionistas in Havana, with Rosa María Payá in attendance. Rosa María, daughter of the Cuban human rights activist and recipient of the European Union’s Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, arrived from the Miami Airport to Cuba on the morning of May 11, to reunite with her family and friends and to honor the memory of her father.

The Mass was attended by activists of the Estado de Sats project, Antonio Rodiles and Ailer González, and by Manuel Cuesta Morua, leader of Progressive Arc, among others.

Rosa Maria Returns to the Revolution of Death / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Click on image for link to video in Spanish

Click on image for link to video in Spanish

ROSA MARIA AND DEATH

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 11 May 2015

Since she was a little girl, death was a guest in her home. A guest no one invited in the midst of the family happiness, rather an intruder imposed by a fascist State called Revolution. A totalitarian state that began killing before the assault on power, killing that prevailed for decades, and that will end up killing more, sooner than later. It is the only logic of a governance in which the Castros are effective, a dynasty of several generations that were never elected in Cuba. Since she was a little girl, death peeked through the blinds and revealed the probable terror: she always knew that the Cuban wanted to kill her papá. Continue reading

Ask the People / Rosa Maria Paya

A butcher shop in Havana. (Source)

A butcher shop in Havana with a photo of Fidel. (Source  Enrique de la Osa, Reuters)

El Mundo, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, 12 April 2015 – Although the current Summit of the Americas in Panama has been a blackboard where the peoples of the Americas have been forced – once again – to choke on the barbarian mouthful of that old subject that is Cuban totalitarianism, hope is renewed by the attitude of consistency and solidarity assumed by the diverse civil society of the Americas.

Today in Cuba a self-transition from Power to Power is being cooked up, which tries to ignore the will of the Cuban people and its exile, while enthroning the military elite after a masquerade of reforms which decriminalize certain economic concessions but continue to hijack all the rights of the citizenry.

Since landing in the sister nation of Panama, I have re-experienced firsthand repression in the style of the Cuban regime. The sincere apologies of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry lose force in the face of all the abuses it allowed to take place against the independent civil society of Cuba and all of the Americas. Continue reading

Cuba Decides: Continuing Oswaldo Paya’s Work for a Plebiscite

"The plebiscite is the path by which the people of Cuba move to the truth and rights in solidarity and realize their hopes." Plebiscite for your rights: Freedom of expression, free elections, freedom of association

Click on image to open Cuba Decides site

For over half a century Cubans have been excluded from the political, economic and social decisions made in our nation. The group in power in Cuba has never been legitimized by democratic elections. The government is responsible for the repression and violence against those with opinions and alternative initiatives.

The absence of an environment of law and self-determination, has plunged the people into poverty and has led our country to economic and social failure, accompanied by constant mass exodus of its citizens.

We are aware that only Cubans corresponds us to define and decide on the changes needed in our society and so do our national project. But for citizens to design, approve and build their future, must be guaranteed by law rights and an atmosphere of trust and respect for all achieved. Continue reading