In 2003 José Oswaldo Paya Sardinas received the greatest tyrannical onslaught that preceded this other well-calculted and final one of 2012. Even without being on the list of those imprisoned, he was the grewatest victim of the so-called Cuban Black Spring.
The greatest part of those affected in this witch hunt , at least some fifty of them, were involved in the collection of signatures for the opposition project led by him, the Varela Project, that had the capability of hitting Fidel Castro as no opposition project had managed to do, to the point of forcing him to reform the constitution; only the genius of Oswaldo could exploit these cracks.
The fact that they left him out of the well-planned operation was an ignominious affront to the great pacifist strategist. The clear objective was to demoralize the opposition and to generate divisions and murmurs — as happened in some cases — but the majority was not fooled and did not fall into the trap.
While the prisoners took up residence in punishment cells hundreds of miles from their homes, the regime published one of its typical libels, this time called “The Dissidents”, in which it’s possible to find Paya in the injurious mouth of each one of those interviewed, while perniciously selected documents try to distort his image, or feed the unfounded divisions.
One of the most grotesque attacks in that publication was to maliciously display Payá family photos showing him in good health enjoying the beach with his family as if it were a sin he should not allow himself.
Two pages with this sequence of photos were aimed like a dagger to direct relatives of victims of the Black Spring that had very fresh wounds from the imprisonment of their loved ones, the message was clear: Payá is enjoying on the beach while your family members languish in prisons.
Thus was fulfilled with the sinister objective of generating jealousy and mistrust and provoking questions in a population that was beginning to doubt the Paya name. Family members as well as prisoners today testify how much agony the arrest of his friends caused Oswaldo, his constant travel throughout the island visiting their families, his calls and letters.
Regardless of all the rumors and smear campaigns articulated by the regime he could say categorically that if it had been in his hands as the leader he would have changed places with any of them, and still would have given his life for the condemned. The sentence to remain in “freedom” while the rest were imprisoned was the worst torture someone could infringe on a person with the human qualities of Paya.
During the funeral of Oswaldo, Librado Linares, a former prisoner of the group of seventy-five told me that if thinking aloud and this was the conclusion I reached after a deep meditation: – “Look for when they saved Paya.”
And the words of the direct victim of that Black Spring, one of those who had collected signatures for the Varela Project, even my signature, made me think hard. The suspicious deaths that preceded Paya’s, and the fact that they were already thinking about the modus operandi and launched targeted assassinations and killings, of which I am fully convinced, made me reflect on the macabre of the procedures of this regime that do not hesitate to qualify as horror, but the way they acted against Paya, not only for his death and the dark days that have happened, but throughout his political activism, are a powerful symbol of the excesses to which a beast like that which seized Cuba more than fifty years ago has come to, the confluence of the most murky and gangster of the whole Republican era.
October 31 2012