"They have told me that they will kill me before this regime ends, but I will not flee." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (February 29, 1952 - July 22, 2012)
|Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante|
On Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 1:50pm near Bayamo in eastern Granma province of Cuba the incident provoked by State Security that ended the lives of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante was underway. Hundreds of miles away in Miami I was sitting in a movie theater in Kendall getting ready to watch The Dark Knight Rises.
Exiting the movie theater at 6:00pm turned on my phone and Orlando Gutierrez was calling to tell me, "They had killed Oswaldo." I know several Oswaldos so immediately asked him "Oswaldo who?" "Payá" he told me, and my heart sank. I sat down opened my laptop and blogged about it in an effort to deal with this horror.
Founding leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and author of numerous initiatives, including the Varela Project that made the Castro regime tremble and change their own constitution to hang on to power. Oswaldo Payá, like Liu Xiaobo in China, offered a peaceful way out of a totalitarian dictatorship. Began following in the late 1980s with great admiration, his long nonviolent struggle for a free Cuba.
Never met Oswaldo Payá in person, but had spoken to him on the telephone a handful of times. In 2003 the Cuban Democratic Directorate hosted his visit to Miami, but I was out of the country at the time and missed meeting him.
|Funeral of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas following July 22, 2012 killing|
Five years later and friends and family of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero continue to demand truth and justice for their dear departed and continue the work to see the day that Cuba is free. Meanwhile we remember their example, their writings that continue to inspire, the terrible day they were taken away from us and the continuing need for justice.
"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’." - Oswaldo Paya, December 17, 2002
"Christians and non-Christians who have the courage and the freedom to consider the peaceful political option for their lives, know they are exposing themselves to slightly less than absolute solitude, to work exclusion, to persecution, to prison or death. "- Harold Cepero, Havana 2012