|February 29, 1952 - July 22, 2012|
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas would be sixty seven years old on February 29th but according to friends and family, the Cuban human rights defender would joke that he had a birthday once every four years due to it being a leap day. 2012 was a leap year and Oswaldo celebrated his last birthday on February 29, 2012. This husband, and father of three was the victim on July 22, 2012, along with Harold Cepero Escalante, of an extra-judicial killing carried out by Cuban State Security that ended both their lives.
|Payá pictured with his immediate family.|
Oswaldo Payá was the founding leader of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), and Harold Cepero its youth leader. Five and a half years later the current MCL leader, Eduardo Cardet, is a prisoner of conscience who has been repeatedly and brutally attacked while unjustly imprisoned. MCL was founded thirty years ago in 1988.
Last year the story of what happened to Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, to make the truth known, and seek justice was told through the eyes of his daughter Rosa María Payá, and is part of a documentary series called The Witness Project, produced by Smock Media and executive produced by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Rosa María now heads the CubaDecide initiative which seeks a binding plebiscite in Cuba.
Below is a 2002 documentary short by the National Democratic Institute titled "Dissident: Oswaldo Payá and the Varela Project."