Requiem for Oswaldo Payá / Rebeca Monzo

Yesterday, around for in the afternoon, the coffin with the body of Oswaldo Payá arrived at the Chapel of the Savior of the World Parish, on Peñón street in the municipality of Cerro, after having completed the formalities of forensic medicine.

The old 19th century church, recently restores, was literally packed. Some of those attending remained outside because there was no room inside, despite the many extra chairs arranged for.

On its arrival the coffin, blessed before entering the sacred enclosure, was greeted with chants which accompanied it until it was placed before the altar. Then the crowd erupted in loud applause, which continued for about ten minutes.

Family, friends and many of those present stayed to keep a vigil over him and wait for the mass to be celebrated at 8:00 in the evening, dedicated to Oswaldo Payá, a person much loved by his community.

This morning Cardinal Jaime Ortega celebrated mass in the parish in memory of Payá, praising the magnitude of his qualities as a human being, religious person, and civic citizen.

The procession left the church accompanied by a large number of religious, laypeople, friends, acquaintances, and admirers of the deceased, as well as the foreign press and a good representation of the diplomatic corps, as well as excited and curious people.

Just after half past ten the hearse arrived at Colón Cemetery, followed by private, diplomatic and rental cars, their occupants descending from them, to join the large group of us who had been waiting there since the early morning hours, forming a crowd that was over a thousand people. All walked quietly behind the car, to the chapel where there was a prayer for the dead and another blessing.

Talking with some friends who had been at the Mass at Cerro, I learned that on leaving towards the avenue, there were some shouts of Freedom, Freedom, and according to what I was told there was pushing and some shoving and arrests were made including of Antonio Rodiles and his wife and Coco Fariñas.

For the rest, the whole ceremony and internment was accompanied by religious chants, moments of silence, a lot of sun, a lot of heat, and a lot of respect for the deceased. In all, some eight hundred of us stayed until the end of the ceremony.

State security agents with their Suzuki bikes stood idly by, under the shade of the laurels. Others moved among us. Everything transpired in apparent peace and normality.

July 24 2012