"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|
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the deaths of #OswaldoPaya/#HaroldCepero/killed under circumstances actively obscured by the #Cuban regime. Payá inspired countless freedom activists. This clip captures Payá’s love for #Cuba & his firm conviction in the resurgence of #democracy pic.twitter.com/8SdQMVPvdV— Michael Lima Cuadra (@ngotranslations) July 22, 2019
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 watching the coming attractions in a movie theater in Kendall.
|Funeral of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas following July 22, 2012 killing|
Learned later that in addition to Oswaldo Payá, another and much younger member of the Christian Liberation Movement had also been killed. First learned of Harold Cepero when he was expelled from university in 2002 for gathering signatures for Project Varela, a legal citizen initiative that sought to reform Cuba's legal code to bring it in line with international human rights standards and saw him in a grainy video interviewed with other expelled university students. Harold Cepero was the youth leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and was just 32 years old when he was murdered by Cuban state security.
Seven 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. All evidence points to an extra-judicial killing engineered by the Castro regime.
Four years ago on July 22, 2015 Javier El-Hage, and Roberto González of the Human Rights Foundation released a 147 page report titled The Case of Oswaldo Payá that concluded.
"Information that emerged in the months that followed and that was not at all considered by the Cuban court that convicted Carromero – consisting of witness statements, physical evidence and expert reports – suggest direct government responsibility in the deaths of Payá and Cepero. Specifically, the evidence deliberately ignored by the Cuban State strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012 were not an accident – as was quickly claimed by authorities in the state-owned media monopoly and later rubber – stamped by Cuba’s totalitarian court system – but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the State, acting (1) with the intent to kill Oswaldo Payá and the passengers in the vehicle he was riding, (2) with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm to them, or (3) with reckless or depraved indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to the life of the most prominent Cuban activist in the last twenty-five years and the passengers riding with him in the car."Meanwhile seven years later we continue to remember their example, their writings that still inspire, the continuing need for justice and the terrible day they were taken away from us.
"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