|Oswaldo Payá meets with Secretary of State Colin Powell on January 7, 2003|
Democratic Senator Bill Nelson issued a press release describing what went on at the meeting:
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that Powell "expressed his admiration" for Paya's efforts in Cuba. "It was a very good meeting and I think we heard a lot from Mr. Paya about the efforts that he and others in Cuba are making to try to bring about peaceful, democratic change in Cuba," Boucher said. Paya's 20-minute meeting with Powell followed a media picture-taking session where the two shook hands for the cameras.Twelve years later, and six years into the Obama presidency, everything has changed and not for the better. Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas whose nonviolent path to Cuban liberation continues to inspire many was killed on July 22, 2012 along with youth leader Harold Cepero in what appears to have been a state security operation in eastern Cuba.
|Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo at the State Department on July 20, 2015|
The United States Department of State in the space of twelve years has gone from receiving a Cuban democratic opposition leader to threatening his daughter with force if she dared to ask a question at a press conference in which the Secretary of State John Kerry took questions with the Cuban dictatorship's Foreign Minister. The same dictatorship that martyred her father three years earlier.
This is what is now celebrated in many quarters as the "normalization of relations." Today, when Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo attempted to present a letter to the Cuban embassy requesting her father's autopsy report she was not allowed to turn in the letter and a patrol car was called. Since 2012 the Payá family has been requesting Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas's autopsy report from the dictatorship and has yet to be given a copy as they are entitled by law.
From being received by the Secretary of State in a private meeting following a petition drive signed by more than 20,000 Cuban nationals to being threatened with physical removal from the State Department for wanting to ask a question at a press conference the moral stature of the United States government has diminished drastically. Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo in a tweet summed up this new reality perfectly: "I didn't think I would receive in the State Dept the same kind of coercive warning security at the Panama airport gave me."