Tribute to Oswaldo Payá / Miriam Celaya

Yesterday afternoon a piece of hope for Cuba died. Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was the fatal victim of an auto accident in circumstances still not clarified. Cuba is dying while continuing to lose its best children, emptying the vital fountains due to unrestrained emigration, galloping corruption, the larceny of such a prolonged dictatorship that has sucked the sap out of four generations, and loses like this one: the death of a Cuban of great worth that fills us with grief.

I did not share all of Payá’s points of view, I was even critical at times of some of his proposals. I would be again; but I always respected the man who created them, his will, his spirit and his dedication. I admired above all his courage and his faith in a better Cuba, the dream to which he dedicated so much energy and so many sacrificed over many years, longer than some deserve who now shrug their shoulders and look away.

Not all the leaders of the opposition have had the merit of confronting absolute power without flinching, without abandoning the fight, without giving in. So today is particularly tragic. In a few hours a Havana perish will hold a wake for the body of a man whose principal weapon was his faith in God and love for Cuba, I bow my head before his death.

I see people walking the streets without even known that an essential Cuban has died; surely the administrators of the terror, cowardly and selfish, will be celebrating a feast in their barracks. But to feel resentment at this time would profane the memory of this fighter for peace. It is consoling to know that Payá had already transcended in life; so death will not be enough to silence him.

I would have wanted us to be able to count on him in the democratic future that we will have some day, no longer so far off, because we need leaders of his stature in a nation that is left bereft of values. Hopefully there are many like him, hopefully they won’t have died. Here is a farewell and a small tribute that I would have preferred never to offer. So that death does not triumph, we offer thanks to Oswaldo Payá for his life, and may God welcome him at his right hand, as befits the righteous men.

July 23 2012