Thursday, March 2, 2017

Defying Cuban style Stalinism: Remembering and honoring Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

 "The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

Rosa María Payá honors her dad on his birthday

On the morning of February 28, 2017 on what would have been the 65th birthday of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas his daughter Rosa María Payá Acevedo, along with friends and activists, placed a plaque honoring his memory on the front of their home in Havana, Cuba.  The plaque contained an image of the martyred dissident leader on the left hand side and the following quote:
"The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together’. This is the liberation which we are proclaiming."
Later that same day in the late afternoon the plaque had been removed by "unknown" persons. A small plaque on the home of a martyred dissident and a human rights ceremony in a private home are but just two examples of what a totalitarian regime cannot tolerate.

Plaque place at the Payá residence on February 28, 2017 that went missing

The disappearance of the plaque honoring Oswaldo Payá is a practice that has gone on for decades in Cuba under the Castro regime. It is the type of Stalinist erasure normally reserved for high ranking regime officials who dared dissent such as Carlos Franqui in 1968 when he criticized Fidel Castro for supporting the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia or artistic icons such as Celia Cruz who preferred to live in freedom and fled the Castro regime. Both were erased from the official media and remain so even today. In 2017 the pattern is repeated with Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. This is why it is important for those of us living in freedom to remember and to correct the historical record. Below is the video of the plaque being placed on February 28, 2017.

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