Friday, February 28, 2014

Remembering Oswaldo on his Birthday and the first step on the path to change

"You are who decides, you have to make the decision to decide. You are the protagonist. The first step is to allow all that is good within you to come out and to rid yourself of grudges, of hubris, or of arrogance if you have abused power, of fears, and of that desperation that paralyzes many." - All Cubans, The Path to Change, last page of printed handout under Orientations

My father should be celebrating his 62nd birthday. Join us tonight, 7:30pm to talk about #SOSVenezuela and Cuba. -  Rosa María Payá Acevedo over twitter

Tony Diaz Sanchez,

Oswaldo Payá should be together with his family tonight in a modest neighborhood in Havana, El Cerro, celebrating his 62nd birthday. However, the totalitarian dictatorship, that tonight is overseeing the murder of students in Venezuela who want to see their homeland freed, nineteen months ago on July 22, 2012 murdered both Oswaldo and Harold Cepero, a Christian Liberation Movement youth leader.

Following these killings, of which the circumstances have not been cleared up, the Payá family saw an intensification of death threats, state security surveillance, and persecution. This led the matriarch of the family, Ofelia Acevedo to decide that before others were murdered that it was time to seek political refuge in exile. Tonight members of the Payá family held a teach-in on the situations in Venezuela and Cuba with Gisela Parra, an exiled magistrate and a member of the opposition as guest speaker.

The question arises: Why do the Castro and Maduro regimes fear those who speak the truth, and peacefully assemble? Neither Oswaldo, Harold or the Venezuelan students, murdered over the past two weeks were violent.  On the contrary they counseled against violence, and hatred. However they also counseled against being afraid, of having hope and living in truth.

This is unacceptable for a totalitarian dictatorship. Because these regime's thrive on fear and distrust which is also related to fear. However, it is difficult for such a regime to instill fear in someone who believes in God, in an afterlife and subsequently, may fear other things greater than death, such as living a lie subjected to the arbitrary whims of a cruel dictator. It is not enough just to be alive going through the motions.

It is telling that Génesis Carmona, the 22 year old student and Miss Tourism shot in the head and murdered by Maduro's agents, was carrying a sign that day that read: "God's time is perfect but if we don't go out into the streets, the time of Maduro will be ETERNAL"

The other factor is that a movement that bases itself in nonviolence and love taps into power, but one different to that wielded by a totalitarian dictatorship. Gandhi offered a reflection on different kinds of power:
"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment."
This power does not seek to impose its will on others but to encourage self-expression and personal liberation. This self-liberation as was seen with the more than 25,000 Cubans that signed The Varela Project and the tens of thousands of Venezuelans protesting peacefully in the streets is the stuff that destabilizes regimes. It is the first, and I would dare say the biggest step, on the path to change.

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