Last February the activist organized the “Oswaldo Payá: Freedom and Life” award ceremony in Havana, in honor of her late father, founder of the Christian Liberation Movement. The authorities blocked the event and prevented Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), one of the first honorees of the award, from entering the country.
During the People’s Power municipal elections, held last November, Payá called on voters to annul their ballots by writing the word “plebiscite” or the name of her organization in it. The opposition denounced the harassment against the promoters of the initiative and described the election process as a “farce.”
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Diario de Cuba, Havana, 23 December 2017 — Activist Lia Villares was released this Friday morning after being detained since Wednesday, activist Rosa María Payá Acevedo said in her Twitter account.
Villares, in addition, was fined 500 pesos by the authorities, according to Martí Noticias.
During the arrest, “her interrogators told her that she had committed crimes, and in order to prove it to her they showed her a photograph that she had taken some time ago with two policemen. In the photo she appears with a fan with the logo of the CubaDecides opposition initiative” directed by Payá Acevedo, according to the Miami media. continue reading
In the cell where she was detained, the activist wrote with a stone on the wall “Art Yes, Censorship No. I am free.”
“They tell me that this is a damage to property and carries a fine of 500 pesos,” she explained.
Villares was arrested Wednesday along with other artists when they tried to attend the staging of the play Psychosis.
Among those arrested and then released were Tania Bruguera, actress Iris Ruiz (protagonist of the monologue that was to be performed), Adonis Milán (director of the play), poet Amauri Pacheco, art historian Yanelys Nuñez, another person identified as José Ernesto Alonso and the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara.
The plot of the piece revolves around a person enclosed in a very small space showing obvious signs of madness who wants to leave the place.
The version that was presented was inspired by the events of 2010 at the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana, popularly known as Mazorra, where 26 patients died of hunger and cold. In the monologue direct allusions were to be made to Raúl Castro and terms such as “dictatorship” were used.
The independent gallery El Círculo is subject to constant repression by the regime. State Security also closed this independent space in April to prevent the presentation of the documentary Nadie, by Miguel Coyula, which deals with the life of the poet Rafael Alcides.
Likewise, the political police set up another operation last November to prevent public attendance at the work “The Enemies of the People” directed by the documentary filmmaker Miguel Coyula, which fictionalized the final minutes of Fidel Castro.
Our apologies for the lack of subtitles on this video.
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 28 October 2017 – On Thursday, after four years of exile, Ofelia Acevedo, widow of Oswaldo Payá, the deceased opponent of the Cuban regime, was not allowed to enter her own country. Acevedo, an activist in her own right, had decided to travel to Havana to clarify the circumstances of her husband’s death in 2012, after a traffic crash that the family believes was an attack planned by the authorities.
Although the Cuban government provided her with a new passport, stamped with the special authorization that citizens who have been out of the country more than two years must have to enter Cuba, when she arrived in Havana she was refused entry to the country and forced to return to Miami from Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. continue reading
“The Cuban State will not let me enter my country. Despite having my papers in order and meeting the legal terms, I was forced to return [to the United States] on Thursday without even an explanation of why I can not return,” says Acevedo, who spoke with 14ymedio at her home in Miami.
“I wanted to get the autopsy reports for Oswaldo [Payá] and Harold [Cepero, who died in the same crash], because when I was in Cuba I filled out endless paperwork and they never gave them to me,” she explained.
“Upon arriving at the immigration barriers, an officer told me that the system showed a restriction order, so that I could not enter the country. I told him that I would not move from there until they explained to me why I could not return to my own land,” she says.
Acevedo tells how a nervous Customs official asked her to follow his directions. “I’m just doing my job. You must have a job and surely you do it,” he repeated.
In the face her demands, Major Ángel Hernández Báez, the person in charge of immigration, appeared and informed her that his function was “to execute the action” of not letting her enter. “My sole function is to keep you from entering the country,” he stressed to Acevedo.
For hours, Payá’s widow, in the company of her daughter Rosa María Payá, leader of the CubaDecides citizens’ initiative, debated with the official until finally Hernández Báez explained that the return flight was about to leave and that she would definitely not enter the national territory. The officer gave the airline a withdrawal order, but Acevedo was never given an explanation of the refusal.
After the crash that cost her husband and the young activist Harold Cepero their lives, the widow reports that she tried to obtain the report of the autoposy, but that the authorities never allowed it.
“After having taken so many steps and going to so many places the hospital director told me that he would send it to me in the mail, which he never did. I complained several times to the hospital but they never answered me,” she says.
The family has a right to the autopsy report, she asserts. From letters to the Minister of Public Health, Roberto Morales Ojeda, to an accusation presented to the Ministry of Justice, she took every possible action to seek to shed light on the fateful event.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (1952-2012) was a charismatic leader, president of the Catholic-inspired Christian Liberation Movement, which organized the Varela Project in 1998, collecting more than 20,000 signatures to demand political reforms from the government then presided over by Fidel Castro.
The Constitution allows the organization of a national referendum for any proposal signed by a minimum of 10,000 citizens. However, the National Assembly of Peoples Power, under the absolute control of the Communist Party, dismissed the initiative and Fidel Castro promoted the declaration of the “irrevocable” character of socialism, eliminating any attempt at political change through laws.
Payá’s widow says she will not rest until she gets all the information she deserves about her husband’s death and makes “the truth” known.
“I still demand an investigation so that we really know what happened, even with all the limitations that I have, like this one of not entering my own country,” she says.
“I fear for the life of my daughter because their [the Cuban government’s] logic is not our logic, it is evil. They have not changed anything. Rosa María has not abandoned the path traced by her father and they can’t forgive this. They hate my family a lot.”
Listening to the narration of the vexations perpetrated by the political police at the home of the former prisoner of conscience Iván Hernández Carrillo was like reliving the horror unleashed in 2003, when the repression tried to abort Cuban Spring, as my father, Oswaldo Payá, called the historical conjuncture where the dictatorship felt more exposed and cornered than ever. continue reading
Over two days, the repressors of the Ministry of Interior broke into the houses of most of the leaders of the Varela Project, most of whom were dear friends of our family. The triggering cause was that this legal initiative was getting the support not only of civil society, but also of a large part of the citizenry, which was sufficient reason to imprison 75 peaceful opponents throughout the island. On that occasion the searches seemed to go on forever, as they do today, and were and are brutally humiliating.
Iván Hernández was beaten at the doorway of his home where he lives with his family, in the municipality of Colón, Matanzas province. It was before dawn, when the family was still asleep. He asked for some time to get dressed before opening the door and it was then that they broke down the door and opened it by force.
The police entered with two German shepherd dogs. With great violence they pushed him against the wall while twisting his neck.
They immediately put handcuffs on him with his hands behind his back and did the same to his mother, Asunción Carrillo, a lady of 65 years. Then the two were pushed into the patrol cars, and arbitrarily detained until the evening.
Then the search began, followed by the robbery. About 50 people, including police, special troops and State Security agents, minutely searched every space in the house, including the garbage bins. They took everything they found in their path: both the cell and landline phones, fans, computer, old fax machine, a tablet, the clock, the television, all the family’s work and personal papers, the scarce office supplies, pencils, pens, staplers. Like neighborhood shoplifters, even some of clothes and shoes were stolen.
They also took away all the books, about 2000 volumes collected for years and years, which made up the family’s independent library and private collection. All were books that they made available to the community as loans, completely free of charge.
In this way, the entire collection of José Martí’s Complete Works was stolen, which State Security’s G-2 officials probably have not read nor will read, ignorant of even the phrases of reproof that the man we Cubans call ‘the Apostle’ dedicated to Marxism, as a doctrine of hatred: “To set men against men is an appalling task,” José Martí wrote, on the occasion of Marx’s death.
But, just like 14 years ago, the main message of this police attack is not aimed at the courage of the opponents attacked, but rather, it aims to discourage their families, neighbors, friends, and other Cubans, wherever they live. The message is terror in its pure state: that was the source and will be the legacy of the so-called Cuban Revolution. The goal is the paralysis of our people. The reason is the fears of a regime that knows itself to be vulnerable.
In truth, this cruelty exposes how weak the elite corporate-military perceives itself to be, though by now it certainly has all the power in Cuba and has hijacked our national sovereignty; but it didn’t know, does not know and will never be able to deal with differences, which is why it only attempts to annihilate them.
But the task of exterminating differences is humanly impossible, the socioeconomic system in Cuba failed decades ago and the dynasty has nothing to offer. That is why it represses without question, but that is also why it must disappear as a regime. We are much closer to freedom today than it seems to them with their atrocities. Because Cubans, like all other human beings, want to be the owners of our own lives (lives in truth, not in faked loyalty), to be able realize our most creative ideas, and to take advantage of the opportunities that we ourselves are capable of creating.
For this noble cause, Iván Hernández works with many others, promoting the Cuban people’s right to decide through the citizen campaign Cuba Decides, to which all are invited. The democratization of a country that does not deserve to be left out of the assembly of contemporary societies is a cause that cannot fail. It is the cause through which, sooner rather than later, the Cuban nation will rise.
Our apologies for not having subtitles for this video.
14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2017 — At least 40 activists attended a mass in tribute to opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero on the fifth anniversary of their deaths, on Thursday evening. The ceremony took place in the church of Los Quemados in Marianao, Havana, and passed without incident.
The daughter of the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), Rosa María Payá, traveled from the city of Miami, where she lives, to participate in the memorial. About 60 people attended the mass, among whom were family, friends and opponents of the Castro government.
Among the activists who participated were former Black Spring prisoner Félix Navarro, the dissident Manuel Cuesta Morúa and the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler.
Speaking to 14ymedio Rosa María Payá said she found “the whole of civil society represented” to honor the memory and legacy of his father. “[All opponents] agree fundamentally: this system does not work and we have to change it.”
Berta Soler said that “the Cuban regime thought that killing Oswaldo Payá was going to do away with him” but that was not the case because “he lives among us.”
Oswaldo Payá founded the MCL in 1988 and died on 22 July 2012 with Harold Cepero, after the vehicle in which they were traveling, driven by the young Spanish politician Ángel Carromero was driving, went off the road and hit a tree.
Payá’s daughter is carrying out an intense international campaign to demand an independent investigation of the case and maintains that the death of her father was a murder orchestrated by the authorities of Havana, and that the car was purposefully run off the road.
A report by the international Human Rights Foundation (HRF) points to “solid indications” that the car in which Payá and his companions were traveling was hit by another vehicle before the crash.
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 — Activist Rosa Maria Payá denounced Monday the arrest of three coordinators of the CubaDecide initiative in Matanzas. The opponents were arrested early in the morning as they headed to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana to welcome Payá, who is promoting the campaign for a plebiscite on the island.
The dissident, who lives between Havana and Miami, said that Sayli Navarro, his father Félix Navarro, and Iván Hernández Carrillo, were “kidnapped” by State Security agents when they left their homes in the Matanzas towns of Perico and Colón, respectively. continue reading
“At this time the whereabouts of the three kidnapped coordinators are unknown,” said a statement released by writer Orlando Pardo Lazo via e-mail. The text reports that Rosa María is returning to Havana with “a work agenda” and to campaign “for the realization of the binding plebiscite.”
The dissident said that three activists were “kidnapped” by State Security agents when they left their homes
Last February, Payá organized the presentation of the Oswaldo Payá Liberty and life Award, which bears the name of her father and to which she invited Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and former Chilean minister Mariana Aylwin, among others.
The Cuban government prevented two of the guests from taking flights to the country and denied the OAS leader a visa. The governments of Chile and Mexico demonstrated their disagreement with the measure taken by Havana.
Several activists associated with the event were arrested on the island, while the police restricted the movements of numerous independent journalists to prevent them from covering the ceremony.
Payá is not part of the Christian Liberation Movement founded by her father and is promoting the holding of a binding plebiscite for Cubans to decide on what system of government should govern in the country.
Almagro, Calderón and Chilean delegate Mariana Aylwin were unable to travel to the Caribbean country on Tuesday to participate in the event called by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, chaired by Rosa Maria Payá, daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, which the Cuban government Cuban has labeled a “provocation.” continue reading
Around Payá’s house, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, a police operation deployed in the early hours of the day prevented activists from reaching the home. From Manila Park, near the house, State Security agents dressed in civilian clothes demanded documentation from any dissident or independent journalists who approached.
Payá told this newspaper that her phone had been “out of service” in the afternoon although “in the morning it worked.” The ceremony was attended by seven activists who had spent the night in the house “plus another 20 people who where able to reach it,” said the dissident. Among them was the head of the political-economic section of the US Embassy in Cuba, Dana Brown, as well as diplomatic representatives from Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Payá told this newspaper that her phone had been “out of service” in the afternoon although “in the morning it worked”
Payá said that the award ceremony had been surrounded by a lot of repression on the part of the regime, Cuban State Security and the Foreign Ministry.” She condemned the reprisals “suffered by civil society members who wanted to participate in the ceremony, resulting in many of them being arrested and others prevented from leaving their homes.”
All of the leaders of the opposition groups on the island “were invited,” Payá told this newspaper. “There are some with whom we have lost communication over the last few days because of everything that is happening, and others who are not in the country and others who couldn’t get here.”
“We hope that this aggression, this rudeness, will find a response and a reaction in all the governments belonging to the Organization of American States (OAS), in all the governments of our region and also in the European Union,” said Rosa María Payá.
Luis Almargo tweeted: Our interest: To facilitate #Cuba’s approach to Interamerican values/principles and to expand the country’s achievements in science, health and education.
The Chilean and Mexican Chancelleries regretted the decision of Cuba, and Chile announced that it will call its ambassador on the island for consultations.
Meanwhile, the only official response from Cuba has come from the Cuban embassy in Chile, which issued a communication referring to the matter as “a grave international provocation against the Cuban government,” with the aim of “generating internal instability” and affecting Cuba’s diplomatic relations with other countries.
According to this note, the act was created “by an illegal anti-Cuban group that acts against constitutional order and that arouses the repudiation of the people, with the collusion and financing of politicians and foreign institutions.”
The only official response from Cuba has come from its embassy in Chile, which issued a communication referring to the matter as “a grave international provocation against the Cuban government”
The ceremony finally took place without the presence of the international guests. “The chairs will remain empty” until the awardees “can land in Havana” to pick them up in person, assured Rosa María Payá. Other Cuban guests were prevented from leaving their homes or arrested on the road.
Constantín Ferreiro is vice-president of the Inter-American Press Association for Cuba and remains in custody without his parents being able to see him or provide him with personal hygiene supplies, according to his father.
Havana’s decision not to authorize the arrival of the head of the OAS was known after a night of uncertainty in which it was not clear whether Almagro had traveled to the Cuban capital, where he initially planned to fly from Paris, where he had participated in institutional activities yesterday. Rosa María Paya today called on the OAS to support the right of the Cuban people to decide on their destiny.
“To the point that Cuba is democratizing, all democracies in Latin America will also gain stability,” said the opposition leader, who hoped that “today is the beginning of an OAS commitment to the cause of rights and freedom in Cuba.”
She pointed out that they do not expect the OAS to “speak out against anyone,” but instead to put itself “on the side of all Cuban citizens in their right to begin a transition process.”
14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has published a letter explaining why he can not attend the Oswaldo Payá “Freedom and Life” Award ceremony. In the letter, addressed to Rosa Maria Paya, Almagro states that he will not come after the refusal of the Havana authorities to grant him an entry visa to Cuba.
The Cuban consulate also denied Almagro entrance to the country using his Uruguayan passport, with which it would not need entrance visa.
According to the Secretary General of the OAS, an official of the Organization, Chris Hernández-Roy, was summoned to a meeting last Thursday by the Consul of Cuba in Washington and the First Secretary of the Consulate in which he expressed, also, the Cuban authorities’ surprise over the reason for the visit and its astonishment at the “involvement” of Almagro in anti-Cuban activities. continue reading
The award is not recognized by the Cuban State and the activities of Cuba Decide, an organization led by Rosa Maria Payá, “undermines the Cuban electoral system,” according to what they told the OAS.
For all these reasons, the authorities refused to grant Almagro a visa and warned him that he would not be admitted to the country if he attempted to board a flight bound for the island.
Almagro laments in his missive the “analysis as superficial as it is alarmist,” that has led to his visit being interpreted as a problem for relations with the United States
“We have responded to these arguments by pointing out that the only interest on our part has been, is and will be to facilitate Cuba’s rapprochement with the values and principles of the inter-American system, both as regards the defense of democracy and the promotion and respect for human rights, while expanding Cuba’s achievements in science, health and education to our region,” said Almagro.
Almagro laments in his missive the “analysis as superficial as it is alarmist,” that has led to his visit being interpreted as a problem for relations with the United States. He considers it “rather ridiculous” that bilateral relations between the two countries depend simply on the holding of the award ceremony.
He emphasizes, furthermore, that his presence on the island scheduled for Tuesday has nothing to do with a desire to evaluate the internal situation of Cuba or its political or ideological trends, issues on which he says he does not consider himself competent to give an opinion.
As Almagro writes in the letter, this is not the first time an act of this kind has been carried out in other countries of the region, and so, he says, he has made it known to the Cuban authorities. According to the secretary general of the OAS, these acts in other countries “are carried out without the government necessarily supporting them, but without censoring them, because they are part of the tolerance of democratic systems and values,” he argues.
His only concern, he says, is that he hopes that as a result of the Cuban government’s boycott of the Oswaldo Payá Award, there will be no repression of those who organized the event. “This would be absolutely unfair and undesirable,” he warns.
The Secretary General of the OAS also rejects the “criminalization” of Cuba Decides and notes that his intention was to honor the memory of Oswaldo Payá
Almagro argued that his presence and activities are not anti-Cuban “in any case” and, on the contrary, his interest is that the country develops at all levels, not forgetting the guarantee of all the rights of its citizens.
For that reason, the Secretary General of the OAS also rejects the “criminalization” of Cuba Decides and notes that his intention was to honor the memory of Oswaldo Payá, so he asked that the authorities reconsider their decision and allow him to enter the Island. “But that was not possible,” he laments.
Almagro closes his letter by reiterating to Rosa Maria Payá the high regard he has for her, in addition to his desire to “continue working within the framework of cooperation established between the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy,” of which she is the current president, “and the OAS.”
The relationship of the Secretary General of the OAS with the Cuban Government has gone through distinct phases. In November of 2014 Almagro visited the Island for fourth time, in his role foreign minister of the Republic of Uruguay. On that occasion he was interviewed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez. However, on assuming his current position in the OAS he became a frequent target of criticism in the official press.
In 2009 the OAS lifted the suspension that weighed on the Island and supported its eventual rejoining
The OAS and the Government of the Island have had tense encounters for decades, since the country was excluded from the regional organization in January 1962, after defining its Marxist-Leninist course. In 2009 the OAS lifted the suspension that weighed on the Island and supported its eventual rejoining of the organization.
Almagro reiterated the invitation to Havana in early 2016 when he stated that his heart felt that Cuba “should be back” in the body, although his brain indicated that the process “will not go that fast.”
During a meeting of the Association of Caribbean States held in Havana, President Raúl Castro reiterated that “the OAS from its foundation was, is and will be an instrument of imperialist domination and that no reform could change its nature or its history. Cuba will never return to the OAS. ”
14ymedio, Miami, 16 December 2016 – Kimberly Motley, an American attorney, and the activists Gorki Aguila and Luis Alberto Marino were arrested this Friday as they prepared to hold a press conference outside the Provincial Court in from of the Capitol Building in Havana. The Cubans were taken to the Zanja police station, but there is no information about the whereabouts of the American lawyer.
Cardet his been under arrest since 30 November for “his political activity of leadership within the MCL” according to the Paya. He is accused of “assault,” a crime that carries a prison sentence from one to three years.
On 26 November, El Sexto was arrested after painting several graffiti on the walls of the Habana Libre Hotel, reading “se fue” (He’s gone), and loaded a video to his Facebook profile celebrating the death of Fidel Castro.
Recently he was transferred to Combinado del Este, a high security prison in Havana.
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 August 2016 – Cuba’s immigration authorities prevented activists Ivan Hernandez and Felix Navarro from traveling outside Cuba this Thursday. The former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring were invited to participate in the 2ndCuban National Conference that be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 12 to 14 August, but were unable to board their flight at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where they ran into Reinaldo Escobar, 14ymedio’s editor
The answer that each of the dissidents received on presenting their documents to the Immigration and Nationality official was: “You cannot leave a second time.” continue reading
Both Hernandez and Navarro had received, in March of this year, special permission to go abroad “one-time” after being placed on parole, a condition the authorities continue to maintain since release from prison in 2011. All those released from the Black Spring “Group of 75” who continue to reside in Cuba benefited from a similar authorization.
The opponent Librado Linares, also a former prisoner of the Black Spring and general secretary of the Cuban Reflection Movement (MCR), did manage to board his flight on Thursday to participate in the meeting of Puerto Rico, since it was the first time he made use permit leave the Island.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) recently sent a letter to Raul Castro expressing “deep concern” about the “violent treatment” received by the trade unionist Ivan Hernandez on his return to Cuba after his first trip abroad. He traveled on the same flight as the opponent Vladimir Roca and attorney Wilfredo Vallin, of the Law Association of Cuba.
Hernandez was arrested on July 31 and reported that he received a “savage beating” when he refused to be subjected to a search at the time of arrival. During his trip abroad he met with organizations and activists from Europe and the United States.
Both Hernandez and Navarro cataloged the “injustices” and said they will continue trying to assert their right to travel freely.
The Cuban National Conference is a continuation of one held last year, which involved 23 organizations in Cuba and 32 from exile. It has been convened by the Coordinating Liaison Committee composed of Ana Carbonell, Rosa María Payá, Sylvia Iriondo, Guillermo Farinas, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva, Rene Gomez Manzano, Mario Félix Lleonart and Saylí Navarro
Among the participants in the conference traveling from Cuba are also Eliecer Avila, leader of Somos+ (We Are More) and Boris Gonzalez, a member of the Democratic Action Roundtable (MUAD). The great absence the meeting will be Guillermo Fariñas, who remains on hunger strike in Santa Clara.
In the early hours of Thursday, Lady in White Leticia Ramos Herrería was arrested while traveling from Matanzas to Havana to take the flight that would also have taken her to the conference in Puerto Rico, according to the leader of the Ladies in White movement, Berta Soler, speaking to this newspaper. The activist was returned to her home where she is under police surveillance.
Event organizers want to use this 2nd Conference to create a “structure of unity of action in diversity,” whose purpose is to “operate inside and outside Cuba, coordinating the efforts of both shores.” In addition, they discussed “the general principles of the new Cuba” desired, an issue that was left pending at the previous meeting.
Note: The video is a brief excerpt from the interview and is not subtitled in English.
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar, Miami, 22 July 2016 – His name is tattooed on the skin of a Cuban graffiti artist (Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto) or is suggested by the letter L, standing for Liberty, formed by the angle between the index finger and the thumb, increasingly displayed by those asking for democracy. The legacy of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (1952-2012) and Harold Cepero (1980-2012) lives on in the nation for which they worked their hearts out and ultimately sacrificed their lives. Four years after the tragic crash that claimed their lives, and that their families and international organizations have classified as a settling of accounts by the repressive Cuban apparatus, 14ymedio speaks with Ofelia Acevedo, widow of Payá, former president of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL).
14ymedio: A few days ago the one year anniversary of the reopening of the embassies between the United States and Cuba was celebrated. Could we be closer to justice in the case of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá? continue reading
Acevedo: The restoration of diplomatic relations has been good. It is clear that it is the Cuban government that does not continue the normal process that this rapprochement should take. On the other hand, justice is the most important step to achieve real change in the Cuban nation. To look forward in our country we need justice. The Christian tradition makes it very clear: if there is a recognition of the truth, there will be justice and forgiveness.
Once we have achieved justice we can talk about reconciliation between Cubans. We Cubans must seek it, starting by reclaiming our rights. This is a key step for the future. The greatest injustice is to deprive the Cuban people of our rights, because of this there has been so much misery and we have not progressed. Human rights are natural and inherent in the person. When we achieve justice we can build a new society, and for this it is important that this crime does not go unpunished.
14ymedio: How has the family faced the loss of your husband?
Acevedo: We are a very close family. We love each other very much and miss him so much. We live in our faith that sustains us. Our faith makes us believe that truth, justice and democracy are possible for our people. All of Oswaldo’s work is imbued with a great deal of hope, of Christian hope. That is what helps us go on in the midst of the adverse environment in which we sometimes live. Oswaldo believed greatly in the betterment of humanity and in the individual, as José Martí said. He looked for ways to give Cubans the tools to decide their future. He understood that change begins with the ability to decide. He affirmed that dialog is the only way to change Cuba, an unconditional dialog, one without exclusions and among all Cubans.
14ymedio: How do you perceive the Cuban opposition four years after the death of its most prestigious leader?
Acevedo: In Cuba there are probably more opponents than there were in Central Europe in 1989. The Cuban opposition has done a great job. We know that the government and intelligence services create moles, “construct” figures, infiltrate groups, defame and blackmail their opponents. This has existed and does exist, they are intransigents with those who don’t think like they do and who have the courage to raise their voice to express it. We Cubans who want changes have to think for ourselves and think about others, think about the Cuban people. We have to forget about egos and go where the people are to explain what are the steps for them to begin to demand their own rights, because they are the ones who should decide. We have to be with the people in this.
Acevedo: The movement received a very strong blow with the death of Oswaldo and Harold. Even before, the persecutions against them were very strong. It was the movement that had the most political prisoners and they were all exiled to Spain without the option to stay. At this time, within Cuba, the MCL is decimated, is my impression. The repression against them is very strong.
14ymedio: How was the experience of exile for your family? Will you return to Cuba?
Acevedo: My family never thought of going into exile. After Oswaldo’s murder I made the decision to go into exile for my children, because State Security was focused on my oldest son. They prevented my daughter Rosa María from starting work at a research center where she already had a place. I panicked and decided to leave because of “them” (State Security). Friends, neighbors, everyone was terrorized, because the whole world knew what had happened and that they enjoy total impunity.
I am working as a teacher and wondering when I can return to my country. I want to return to Cuba, but I hope that things improve because it costs me a lot to have to face them. My rejection of them is huge. I know I have to deal with them but it’s very difficult, because of what they are doing, what they did, how they have made my family and our people suffer.
Acevedo: The only meeting I had with them was a week after Oswaldo’s funeral. They called me in to ask if I was going to ask from compensation from Angel Carromero [the leader of the youth organization New Generations of the Popular Party of Madrid, who was driving the car in which Payá died and who was convicted of manslaughter). I told them I would not accept their version and I wanted to talk with the survivors. They never granted me that. The Cuban penal code does not give the victims a chance. My children were not allowed to attend the trial, which the regime had announced would be public. There was an immense repression in Bayamo [where the trial was held]. We could not carry out any legal action because a lawyer friend of the family said there was no chance to demand anything because of the criminal code.
I asked the government and the hospital for the autopsy report. They have never given it to me. I spoke to State Security, with Legal Medicine. Everyone told me that the hospital had to give me the report. The hospital administration, at six in the evening, after I did whatever paperwork was possible, told me to send it to them by mail and gave me a telephone number. The number didn’t work and we are still waiting on the autopsy. I wrote to the minister of Public Health. Rosa María tried to deliver a letter to the Cuban embassy, but they wouldn’t even let her enter the diplomatic site. Then we sent the letter in Cuba and we we had a receipt for it, but they have never answered.
14ymedio: What did Aron Modig (former leader of the Swedish Christian Democrat Party youth organization who was also in the car at the time of the crash) say about the day he Payá and Harold died?
Acevedo: Modig maintains his position. He doesn’t remember anything until reaching the hospital. It is a selective loss of memory. To me there are things that bother me sometimes in the media, because they talk about an accident, when we all know that it was a murder. A report by the international organization The Human Rights Foundation and another by physics professors at Florida International University demonstrated that it is impossible for [the crash] to have happened in the way the Cuban State says it did.
14ymedio: What legacy have Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá left?
Acevedo: The blood of freedom fighters is the seed of free men. This applies to Harold, Oswaldo, to all who have given their lives for human rights. The blood of innocent people, those who give their lives for others, is not spilled in vain. They crashed Oswaldo’s cars* when he was in the street. We keep fighting to give the Cuban people the possibility of deciding, which was Oswaldo’s fight as well. The Cuban government, in exchange, fights to destroy Cubans’ hopes.
*Translator’s note: There was a similar incident with another vehicle Oswaldo Payá was traveling in prior to the fatal crash.
EFE (via 14ymedio), María Tejero Martín, Oslo, 23 May 2016 — Cuban opposition member Rosa María Payá said Monday ,in an interview with EFE, that the “totalitarianism” of the government led by Raul Castro “has not broken” despite the open contact with the United States and the European Union (EU), and so she asked that these approaches be used to achieve “concrete progress.”
“Rapprochement with Cuba is very good, but it depends on how and how it is sold. It also has negative consequences, such as the rest of the world perceiving an internal process of openings toward democracy, and this has not occurred,” said Payá in the Norwegian capital, where she has come to participate in the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF). continue reading
The dissident said that “totalitarianism has not been broken” despite the “legitimacy” with which it might have re-clothed itself after the visits of personalities such as US President Barack Obama, the high representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, Pope Francis or the Rolling Stones.
Payá, daughter of the prominent opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, who died in 2012 in a car crash which his daughter blames on the Cuban regime, believes that the international community has an “opportunity to pressure the regime for this change toward freedom.”
Payá criticized the “excuses that can be cynical, but are invoked as pragmatic” which are used as an argument to initiate dialogue with Cuba placing special attention on economic relations and relegating to the background demands for human rights and freedom.
“People say things like if we negotiated with China, why not with the Cuban regime. Under this line of thinking, why not with North Korea?” she said.
We regards to negotiations between Brussels and Havana, she considers it “worrying” that no light has been shined on the text that serves as a basis for contacts between the two parties and warned that it is not enough to simply include “a mention of human rights, because tyrannies have already learned to deal with these mentions.”
“The support has to be concrete, specific and on measurable issues. Not only speeches in support of democracy, of human rights,” she said, calling for support for the holding of a plebiscite on the island, access to communications media and information, and the release of political prisoners.
“Totalitarianism, which has not been broken, is broken when the ability to decide does not reside in the same group of generals. At that moment the transition will have begun, which won’t happen in a single day. We cannot pretend this is happening,” she said, in a message she directed to “the international community,” from whom she asked for “support.”
” Cubans are human beings just like everyone else, like Spaniards or Belgians. We did not endure five decades in order to have Airbnb, but rather all out rights (…), having more Americans to travel to the island is not enough, it is a racist approach to think so,” she claimed.
To Payá, inaction may also affect the international community itself and democratic countries.
In this regard she pointed to how the situation in Venezuela has been evolving under the leadership of Hugo Chavez and president Nicolas maduro, but also the ideas that have come from “political parties in Spain.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming Spanish elections, Payá stressed that “the Spanish people are sovereign, so it is up to them to decide,” although she expressed her concern for “the influence of the totalitarian regime in Havana and the Chavista regime which is concerned with undermining Latin America and exporting its ideas to Europe.”
About the rise of anti-democratic positions, the Cuban opponent once again called on democratic countries to act.
In terms of rights, “Cubans were already in the worst situation ten years ago, but now the rest of the world is worse off as well,” she warned.