The Inheritance of Rosa Maria Paya / Mario Lleonart

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

My first direct contact with the Payá family was very unfortunately this. I was totally dissatisfied when during the confused seconds before the coffin I offered brief and protocol words of sympathy they received as from one more stranger among the immense line offering tribute from so many hearts.

Because of that I did waste another fleeting moment and in the morning, well near dawn on the difficult day of the funeral, but that was one of the most solemn moments and this time far from all protocol. Rosa María Payá, that young girl from the photo on the beach, now without her loving dad, was alone for a moment in the first bench on the left of the parish, which was always occupied by the immediate family, all wearing black clothes sign of intense mourning that covered their souls.

I went with the same unwavering strength as the day before, this time not to break a police cordon, but to deal with a young soul shattered by the loss of her irreplaceable privileged father. My words were brief but came from the depths of my soul, this was more or less my message: “You don’t know me Rosa Maria but my name is Mario Felix and I’m simply a Baptist pastor in a remote village of Villa Clara. I am here because yesterday at about this same time of the morning I heard on the radio your words expressing your dismay and dissatisfaction with the way your father died. They were so shocking to me that made me cross the distance to get here. I think you inherited the same light that your father reflected and I just wanted to say: Let it shine.”

And that was it. But amid her grief she seemed to appreciate through her tears a strong flash of light to which I had just referred. A few hours later Maria Rosa illuminated the entire parish overshadowing all the words, including the homily that Cardinal Jaime Ortega had just pronounced.

Dead silence, broken only by the countless cameras flashes showed the attention that everyone focused on her. The content of her words and the way they broke through in the middle of so much pain proved to me that morning that I was right and I knew at once that if someone had thought that with the physical death of Oswaldo they could put an end to his legacy they were totally wrong because we were looking at the representation of the generation that shall reap the fruit of the seed of liberation he had so deftly planted.

November 8 2012