Sunday, July 22, 2018

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante: Remembering two Cuban martyrs

"Six years ago the Castros murdered my father, along with him #HaroldCepero. Today we meet to honor their lives and appreciate the time they were with us . Today their murderers already know that there will be no impunity and that they failed because they could not kill their legacy. #Freedom" - Rosa María Payá, over Twitter on July 22, 2018

 Harold Cepero Escalante and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
There are a few moments that are burned into my memory: the moment on January 28, 1986 when the Challenger blew up, the February 24, 1996 shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes by Cuban MiGs, the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 and the murders of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012.  

Mass in remembrance of Oswaldo and Harold in Miami
Today, I prayed for them and celebrated their lives. Around the world in Paris, Madrid, Miami, Hialeah and Havana masses were held in Oswaldo and Harold's memory.  Their ideas remain a relevant and powerful challenge to the existing regime in Havana.
 "Those who remove and crush freedom are the real slaves." - Harold Cepero Escalante (January 29, 1980 - July 22, 2012)

"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) 
 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. The question some may ask is "why did the Castro regime want him dead?" The answer is simple: he exposed their lie while mobilizing tens of thousands of Cubans.

Mass in memory of Oswaldo and Harold in Madrid
Fake Change in Cuba
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas speaking on behalf of the Christian Liberation Movement in Havana on March 30, 2012 bravely denounced the fraudulent change that was then taking shape and that is being carried out today with the Obama administration's Cuba policy:

Our Movement denounces the regime's attempt to impose a fraudulent change, i.e. change without rights and the inclusion of many interests in this change that sidesteps democracy and the sovereignty of the people of Cuba. The attempt to link the Diaspora in this fraudulent change is to make victims participate in their own oppression. The Diaspora does not have to "assume attitudes and policies in entering the social activity of the island." The Diaspora is a Diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to which the regime denied rights as it denies them to all Cubans. It is not in that part of oppression, without rights, and transparency that the Diaspora has to be inserted, that would be part of a fraudulent change. 

The Payá family
What real change would look like
Oswaldo Payá in the same statement outlined that authentic change was contingent upon a principled path of action not economic determinism:

The gradual approach only makes sense if there are transparent prospects of freedom and rights. We Cubans have a right to our rights. Why not rights? It is time. That is the peaceful change that we promote and claim. Changes that signifies freedom, reconciliation, political pluralism and free elections. Then the Diaspora will cease being a Diaspora, because all Cubans will have rights in their own free and sovereign country. That is why we fight.
The current Constitutional convention in Cuba, presided over by Raul Castro, is part of the fraudulent change that Oswaldo Payá so effectively denounced. Cosmetic changes to curry international favor without changing the totalitarian and dictatorial nature of the regime in Cuba.

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