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Rosa María Payá Acevedo

EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 8 March 2017 — The Oswaldo Payá prize was presented this Thursday, in a symbolic way, to the IDEA initiative, after Cuba refused entrance on Wednesday to the presidents of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, and of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga, who came to receive the award in an act seen by the Government of the Island … Continue reading "Paya Prize Awarded Without Honorees, In An Event Cuban Government Calls a "Provocation"" Continue reading
Ivan Garcia and Leonardo Santos, 15 March 2018 — It is difficult, for the macho mentality that prevails among Cubans, to relate to a woman with bold attitudes that require determination and bravery. Regarding Rosa María Payá Acevedo, freelance journalist José Hugo Fernández said that “she has a graceful, elegant appearance, a candid look.” This is the leader … Continue reading "Interview with Rosa Maria, Oswaldo Paya’s Daughter / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio (with information from agencies), Havana/Miami, 7 March 2018 — The Cuban government blocked the entry to the island of the former presidents of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana, and of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga, who were sent back to Bogata on Wednesday, after they traveled to Havana to accept the prize that bears the name of the late … Continue reading "Cuba Denies Entry to Two Former Presidents Arriving to Attend the Paya Prize Ceremony" Continue reading
EFE, via 14ymedio, Miami, 1 March 2018 — The Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA), a forum in defense of democracy made up of former presidents and heads of state created in 2015 by two Venezuelans, won the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and Life Prize this Friday. The second annual award of this prize, instituted by the … Continue reading "Paya Award Winners: Former Presidents in Support of Democracy" Continue reading
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EFE via 14ymedio, Miami, 7 February 2018 — On Tuesday, February 6, the Miami-Dade County Commission requested that the United States Government, the Organization of American States and the United Nations not recognize a possible transfer of power in Cuba if it is not the result of free elections. The petition was contained in a … Continue reading "Trump, UN and OAS Asked To Not Recognize Transfer of Power In Cuba Without Free Elections" Continue reading
Rosa Maria Paya’s press conference on the crash that killed Harold and her father, Oswaldo Paya. Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 28 December 2017 — The activist, who divides her time between Havana and Miami, directs the Cuba Decides initiative that proposes the holding of a plebiscite to initiate a transition to democracy on the Island. With a degree in Physics, Payá (b. 1989, Havana) has had an intense year in which she has … Continue reading "Cuban Faces 2017: Rosa María Payá, Activist" Continue reading
Diario de Cuba, Havana, 23 December 2017 — Activist  Lia Villares was released this Friday morning after being detained since Wednesday, activist Rosa María Payá Acevedo said in her Twitter account. Villares, in addition, was fined 500 pesos by the authorities, according to Martí Noticias. During the arrest, “her interrogators told her that she had committed crimes, and in order … Continue reading "Cuban Regime Frees Activist Lia Villares" Continue reading
Luis Trápaga, husband of Lia Villares, has been incommunicado for 5 hours. He does not answer his phone nor respond at home. Today at 7:30 PM he was at the police station at Zapata and C, waiting for them to tell him WHERE IS LIA! Lia has been ‘d... Continue reading
Our apologies for the lack of subtitles on this video. 14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 28 October 2017 – On Thursday, after four years of exile, Ofelia Acevedo, widow of Oswaldo Payá, the deceased opponent of the Cuban regime, was not allowed to enter her own country. Acevedo, an activist in her own right, had decided … Continue reading "Oswaldo Payá’s Widow: “The Cuban State did not want to tell me why I can’t enter my own country.”" Continue reading
14ymedio, Rosa Maria Paya, Miami, 4 September 2017 — In the early hours of September 1st they did it again. It happened just as it did 14 years ago when, in March of 2003, the Cuban regime arrested dozens of Varela Project activists and independent journalists. This time the assault lasted 10 hours. Listening to the narration … Continue reading "“To Set Men Against Men is an Appalling Task”" Continue reading
Our apologies for not having subtitles for this video. 14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2017 — At least 40 activists attended a mass in tribute to opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero on the fifth anniversary of their deaths, on Thursday evening. The ceremony took place in the church of Los Quemados in Marianao, Havana, and passed … Continue reading "Dozens of Opponents Attend Mass in Honor of Oswaldo Paya in Havana" Continue reading
On NOT Waiting for the King to Die / Rosa María Payá Cuba Decides: Continuing Oswaldo Paya’s Work for a Plebiscite Oswaldo Payá Remembered On The Anniversary Of His Birth / 14ymedio Rosa María Payá: “Totalitarianism is not broken in Cuba, we can not pretend it is” / EFE (14ymedio), María Tejero Martín Je Suis … Continue reading "Cubans Want to Vote in Free and Open Elections: Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero Are Two of the Many Who Have Died For It" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 — Activist Rosa Maria Payá denounced Monday the arrest of three coordinators of the CubaDecide initiative in Matanzas. The opponents were arrested early in the morning as they headed to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana to welcome Payá, who is promoting the campaign for a plebiscite on the island. The … Continue reading "Cubadecide Activists Arrested A Few Hours Before Rosa Maria Paya Arrives On The Island" Continue reading
14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The presentation of the Oswaldo Payá “Freedom and Life” Prize has led to a diplomatic conflict, after the Cuban government vetoed the entry into the country of three of the guests: OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Mariana Aylwin. Almagro, Calderón and Chilean delegate Mariana … Continue reading "Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio, EFE" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has published a letter explaining why he can not attend the Oswaldo Payá “Freedom and Life” Award ceremony. In the letter, addressed to Rosa Maria Paya, Almagro states that he will not come after the refusal of the Havana authorities to … Continue reading "Cuba Refuses OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro Entry To The Island / 14ymedio" Continue reading
14ymedio, Miami, 16 December 2016 – Kimberly Motley, an American attorney, and the activists Gorki Aguila and Luis Alberto Marino were arrested this Friday as they prepared to hold a press conference outside the Provincial Court in from of the Capitol Building in Havana. The Cubans were taken to the Zanja police station, but there … Continue reading "‘El Sexto’s’ American Lawyer and Two Activists Arrested in Havana / 14ymedio" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 August 2016 – Cuba’s immigration authorities prevented activists Ivan Hernandez and Felix Navarro from traveling outside Cuba this Thursday. The former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring were invited to participate in the 2nd Cuban National Conference that be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 12 to 14 August, but … Continue reading "Ivan Hernandez And Felix Navarro Prevented From Leaving Cuba “A Second Time” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar" Continue reading
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Note: The video is a brief excerpt from the interview and is not subtitled in English. 14ymedio, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar, Miami, 22 July 2016 – His name is tattooed on the skin of a Cuban graffiti artist (Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto) or is suggested by the letter L, standing for Liberty, formed … Continue reading "“When we achieve justice we can build a new society” / 14ymedio, Ofelia Acevedo, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar" Continue reading
EFE (via 14ymedio), María Tejero Martín, Oslo, 23 May 2016 — Cuban opposition member Rosa María Payá said Monday ,in an interview with EFE, that the “totalitarianism” of the government led by Raul Castro “has not broken” despite the open contact with the United States and the European Union (EU), and so she asked that … Continue reading "Rosa María Payá: “Totalitarianism is not broken in Cuba, we can not pretend it is” / EFE (14ymedio), María Tejero Martín" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 17 May 2012 — In the summer of 2012, Rosa María Payá had just started out in the political arena. She moved among the young people who animated the Varela Project, El Camino del Pueblo (The Path … Continue reading Continue reading
Cubanet, Ignacio Gonzalez and Osmel Almaguer, Havana, 13 May 2015 – A Mass for the deceased Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, activist, was held this afternoon at the Church of Los Pasionistas in Havana, with Rosa María … Continue reading Continue reading
ROSA MARIA AND DEATH Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 11 May 2015 Since she was a little girl, death was a guest in her home. A guest no one invited in the midst of the family happiness, rather an intruder imposed by … Continue reading Continue reading
You can watch it (after the fact) here. Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39813" align="aligncenter" width="657"] [1] A butcher shop in Havana with a photo of Fidel. (Source  Enrique de la Osa, Reuters)[/caption] El Mundo, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, 12 April 2015 – Although the current Summit of the Americas in Panama has been a blackboard where the peoples of the Americas have been forced – once again – to choke on the barbarian mouthful of that old subject that is Cuban totalitarianism, hope is renewed by the attitude of consistency and solidarity assumed by the diverse civil society of the Americas. Today in Cuba a self-transition from Power to Power is being cooked up, which tries to ignore the will of the Cuban people and its exile, while enthroning the military elite after a masquerade of reforms which decriminalize certain economic concessions but continue to hijack all the rights of the citizenry. Since landing in the sister nation of Panama, I have re-experienced firsthand repression in the style of the Cuban regime. The sincere apologies of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry lose force in the face of all the abuses it allowed to take place against the independent civil society of Cuba and all of the Americas. Only Cuban civil society activists and the foreigners who work with us were threatened and detained in Panama. But there were no consequences for Cuban State Security agents – such as Alexis Alfonso Frutos Weeden – who beat their peaceful countrymen openly in the street, simply for thinking that our beloved Cuban deserves, after more than half a century without plural elections, an alternative to totalitarianism. Similarly, these agents boycotted the discussion tables of civil society and beat accredited foreigners. As on the Island in Panama as well: the Cuban opposition has been found a priori guilty in the eyes of authority. The marvelous-real isthmus thus turned into the magically-repressive. Hence, we civil society members elevate our demand for democracy in Latin America to the Organization of American States, in hopes of catching less indolent ears than those of the OAS’s outgoing secretary general. However, the documents read in the plenary session at the end were indeed the consensus of the civil society of all of the Americas. The regime’s rudeness did not serve it well, as before the intolerant cry of “There will be no Forum,” the consistent voice of Latin American civil society was raised, supporting the implementation of “binding mechanisms for consulting the citizenry, such as plebiscites and referendums.” Civil society forged networks to demand a life in truth. We young Latin Americans refuse to be subjects of alliances and hegemonies which, with a rhetoric more or less revolutionary, claim the lives of Venezuelan or Mexican students, gag the press in Nicaragua or in Ecuador, and condemn Cubans to a dynastic totalitarianism in perpetuity. As my father Oswaldo Paya said so many times before his extrajudicial execution in Cuba on Sunday, 22 July 2012: dictatorships are not of the left of the right: they are just dictatorships. Because rights have no political color, no race, no culture. Because the dignity of the human person in an inalienable gift far beyond the markets and the State. For this reason we are now working on the citizen initiative Cuba Decides, which proposes holding a plebiscite, which we presented in the parallel summits and in the Civil Society Forum in Panama. After decades of dictatorship, the Cuban government does not represent the people. Nor do we pretend to speak for all Cubans, but we do want the Cuban people to have a voice. The world’s democracies have the opportunity today to pay less media homage to handshakes between the elected president of the White House and the hereditary general of the Plaza of the Revolution, and to prioritize the agenda of accompanying Cubans in our liberation, asking the people in a plebiscite to return to us our sovereignty. Translated from the original Spanish published in El Mundo [2].   [1] [2] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39807" align="aligncenter" width="698"] [1] Click on image for video of interview in English[/caption] English language interview of Rosa Maria Paya at the Summit of the Americas is here [2]. [1] [2] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39763" align="aligncenter" width="584"] [1] Click on image to open Cuba Decides site[/caption] For over half a century Cubans have been excluded from the political, economic and social decisions made in our nation. The group in power in Cuba has never been legitimized by democratic elections. The government is responsible for the repression and violence against those with opinions and alternative initiatives. The absence of an environment of law and self-determination, has plunged the people into poverty and has led our country to economic and social failure, accompanied by constant mass exodus of its citizens. We are aware that only Cubans corresponds us to define and decide on the changes needed in our society and so do our national project. But for citizens to design, approve and build their future, must be guaranteed by law rights and an atmosphere of trust and respect for all achieved. In this way we can make a genuine national dialogue and begin the process of legal changes, without exception, for the people to retain or sovereignly change that decision. So proclaim and work for the people to be consulted in a plebiscite. There will be no transition to democracy in Cuba if Cubans are again excluded. Our proposal continues the citizen petition the Varela Project. Bill that 25,404 Cubans with voting rights submitted to the National Assembly of People's Power, supported by article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic. The National Assembly has yet to respond to these citizens. Our demand [2] considers Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cuban state as one of its signatories committed themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the effective universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Cubans are one people. All, without classify and divide them by their ideas, beliefs, race, political positions or country of residence, are called to promote and participate in this plebiscite. No one should question the changes that the people want is freedom, reconciliation and all rights. For these goals and work peacefully fight the opposition inside and outside Cuba. But the great lack of Cubans is that we have no voice, no democratic means to express ourselves as the government and some in the world claim to speak for our people. Hence our demand to the government of Cuba, is to conduct a plebiscite for the people to express itself supremely 1 and decide on the following proposal: Are you in agreement with that free elections held shall exercise the freedom of expression and Press and organizing freely in political parties and social organizations with full plurality? Yes or No?   Urging all Cubans wherever they are to join this lawsuit. We invite governments, the democratic institutions and the men and women of good will in the world to support the sovereignty and self-determination of our people, which is to support the right to decide for Cubans, through a plebiscite. [1] [2] Continue reading
Statement from Rosa María Payá at the Summit of the Americas Panama, 10 April 2015 Good day. I would like to thank everyone for their willingness to dialog. We came willing to dialog. We wanted to listen to our Cuban brothers and sisters, who we know are in the same condition as ourselves. I want to ask forgiveness from everyone in the name of the Cuban people for what just happened in the conference hall. Despite what you saw, we Cubans are a generous and caring people. Even those people who were there were also deprived of their rights. They also cannot decide. And probably did not decide to be there. These are the aberrations that occur when you live in a dictatorship. My father [1], who was killed in an attack from the Cuban government just over two years ago, said that rights have no political color. Nor do dictatorships have a political color. And we are here today wanting to promote solutions to a problem that is no longer only Cuban, nor only Venezuelan. It is a regional problem, like that we just had here. Because we have all been affected by an intolerance that we do not share. There are two points I would like to put forward. The first is affecting us in several countries in the region: it is the issue of impunity. We see young people disappearing in Mexico. We see prosecutors who die the day before they present their evidence. We see children murdered on the streets of Caracas. My best friend [2] and my father were murdered in an attack two and a half years ago, and we don’t even have an autopsy report. We know it is also an issue in Nicaragua and in Guatemala. I would like to settle our point in favor of stopping the impunity and calling attention to the political leadership of Latin America to stop this impunity and take impartial measures. My second point perhaps could be understood as very particular, because it has to do with Cuba. But from Cuba there has been a marked interference (as there has been from other countries, such as the United States, but I am Cuban) and we have to stop the interference that in some places in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, the Cuba government is engaging in right now. My point is in favor of the right of Cubans to decide. Cubans have not decided in free and plural elections for more than 60 years. We are asking for support for the right of Cubans to decide in a plebiscite. In two days time, a general will arrive here to converse with the presidents of Latin America: a person who has never been chosen by the people. We also want to hear him, but we want the people to be listened to. So we ask for your support for a plebiscite in Cuba and that Cubans be asked if they want free and plural elections, if they want the recognition of political parties, if they want access to the media. If they want this process in impartial conditions. To support the right to decide of Cubans is also to support the right to decide, the right to development and democracy for the entire region. Many thanks. Rosa María Payá Acevedo Video in Spanish [embed][/embed] [1] [2] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39663" align="alignleft" width="623"] [1] Young Cubans at the 2nd Forum of Youth and Democracy in Panama. Eliecer Avila with the microphone. (14ymedio)[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Panama, 8 April 2015 -- Young Latin American leaders gathered Tuesday on the second day of the 2nd Youth and Democracy Regional Forum in Panama and addressed issues such as the rise of populist regimes in the region, and agreed on the need to organize civil society at the hemispheric level to fight against political apathy. The protagonists of the morning session were Micaela Hierro Dori, president of the Argentine civil association CICES [3], who acted as moderator; Ricardo Antonio Álvarez Arias, vice president of Honduras; Eduardo Stein, former vice president of Guatemala; Guillermo Cochez, former Ambassador of Panama to the Organization of American States (OAS); Martha Lucía Ramírez, former Minister of Defense of Colombia; Gustavo Amaya, executive director of the Center for Training and Promotion of Democracy [4] (CECADE) in San Salvador; and Carolina Quinonez, a journalist from Guatamala's Antigua Channel. Political apathy, according to attendees at the meeting, threatens equally countries ruled by totalitarian regimes and those in which the society assumes that "all is well" or at least "better than in other countries," because in the latter it can leave the door open to the possibility that populism and other deformations will silence thoughtful proposals to take advantage of what the traditional parties have not resolved. Carlos Amel Oliva, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), compared this phenomenon with the rise of fascism in Europe before World War II, ignored by governments until the outbreak of the war. "The democratic countries of the region need to not let the same thing happen with populism. It is not Cuba’s or Venezuela’s problem, it is a regional problem." Press freedom was another issue that focused attention during the morning panel. The representative from UNPACU denounced the "media laws that are driving some governments to control and limit freedom of expression under the pretext of preventing the spread of lies and distortions." Participants also discussed the problem of parasitism that grows in the region due to both the family remittances from emigrants as well as government “handouts,” especially under populist systems, factors that discourage the growth and development of national economies and create a vicious circle that encourages emigration and at the same time reinforces parasitism. Participants’ skepticism of transnational organizations and meetings was reflected in the statements of Eduardo Stein, shared by several attendees, who questioned the existence of a regional organization like the OAS. For the former vice president of Guatemala, on the OAS Permanent Council, the alliance of a few countries prevents certain issues from being analyzed in the Summits. “There will be no will to confront the political problems of each country, appealing to the right of national sovereignty,” he added about the Summit of the Americas. The afternoon of the day was dedicated to the initiatives of young Cubans with regards to democratic opening, with the participation of Kirenia Yalit Núñez, Yasser Rojas, Eliécer Ávila and Roberto Jiménez on behalf of the Roundtable, a proposal of democratic changes on the base of initiatives that seek to involve all Cubans in the solution of the problems that affect the whole population. Also presented at the meeting was the new Cuba Decides [5] initiative led by Rosa María Payá and Erick Álvarez, members of the Christian Liberation Movement; while Yusmila Reyna and Carlos Amel Oliva spoke of the objectives of UNPACU [6]. Finally, the Aulas Abiertas [7] (Open Classrooms) project was presented, a project which promotes knowledge of the basic questions inherent in democratic societies, to prepare citizens before the eventual process of transition in which they will be capable of participating with a proactive role. Unfortunately, it was not possible to expand the debate with questions from the audience due to the frequent and prolonged power outages in the room where the session was being held, which also affected some of the equipment for projecting materials, and which the Forum organizers attributed a deliberate attempt to sabotage the activity. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39608" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] The site of Youth Movements Forum, held Monday in Panama. (14ymedio)[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Havana, April 6 2015 – Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late Cuban activist Oswaldo Payá, has announced this Monday the creation of the citizen initiative Cuba Decide, or “Cuba Decides.” The goal of the project, presented during the Forum of Youth Movements in Panama, is for Cubans to pronounce themselves through a plebiscite regarding the changes they would like to implement on the Island. “We are conscious that only Cubans should define and decide on the changes that our society needs,” states the group’s website. “In order for citizens to be able to design, decide and construct their future, their rights should be guaranteed by the law and an atmosphere of trust and respect for all should also be achieved. That is what we proclaim and we work for a plebiscite that will consult the people in that matter. There will be no transition to democracy in Cuba if Cubans are excluded once again.” The initiative advocates for the calling of “free, just, and plural” elections in an atmosphere in which the freedoms of expression, press, and assembly into political parties and plural social organizations are respected. “No one should question that the changes desired by the Cuban people are those of freedom, reconciliation and full and guaranteed rights. Opposition within Cuba and abroad works and battles peacefully to achieve these goals. However, our greatest deficiency is that we have no voice, nor the democratic tools needed to express ourselves while the government and some others around the world pretend to speak on behalf of our people,” reads Cuba Decide’s website. The project presented by Rosa María Payá accuses the Cuban government of being responsible for repression and violence against those with alternative opinions and initiatives and blames the absence of an environment that respects the law and self-determination for the “social and economic failures, as well as the constant and massive exodus of citizens” from the Island. The proposal seeks to give continuity to the Varela Project, promoted in 1998 by Oswaldo Payá with the aim of enlarging individual liberties in Cuba. Payá achieved the collection of the more than 10,000 signatures required by the Cuban Constitution for the proposal of legislative amendments. The National Assemble, however, rejected the proposal as inconsistent with the law. Translated by Fernando Fornaris [1] [2] Continue reading
[1]   Translations, from top to bottom: They searched everything I had in my bag, even my underwear. At one point they took my personal agenda with all my notes. Now they have put me in detention, saying they are checking my documents I am someplace in the Tocumen airport. "You will be deported to Cuba if you cause any disturbance, carry a placard... Go to your own country to cause disturbances," the agent threatened me. I am being detained by Panama National Security at the door of the airplane.   [1] Continue reading
[1] Screen shot from the Twitter account of one of the regime’s aliases A subject we always include Rosa María Payá I have only been in Washington DC 12 hours. Time enough to take up Senator Marco Rubio’s kind invitation to go to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. It’s winter in DC, but as it gets late, the monumental silhouettes are turned on, giving the capital a warm appearance. In the Capitol I was able to talk to various Democrat and Republican senators, all of them wanting to hear about Cuba. The points in question continue to be fundamental ones: 1) The United States is having high level conversations with a government which has never been chosen by its citizens. And therefore we hope they will put on the table some support for the constitutional petition put up by thousands of Cubans in favour of a referendum for free and multi-party elections. 2) The United States authorities have, on various occasions supported the need for an independent investigation into the violent deaths on 22 July 2012 of my father Oswaldo Payá, European Union Andrei Sakharov prize-winner, and Harold Cepero, young leader of the Christian Liberation Movement. To be consistent, this matter should be discussed now with the Cuban government, as there is the opportunity to address it directly via the new official channels. Flying back, I bumped into Roberta Jackson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. I went up to her immediately and she got up to greet me. I was pleased she did that. “Going back home are just to Miami?” she asked me in an innocent way. “I’m going to Miami,” I told her and it struck me that I had not gone back to my home in Havana for more than a year. The last time I was there, State Security chased my brothers in the street, by Parque Manila in El Cerro, and phoned them to say, “Bastards, we’re going to kill you.” Mrs. Jacobson was going to Havana to some meetings with Cuban government officials. One of them is the well-known State Security functionary Gustavo Machín. Not by coincidence, it was he who had the responsibility for the press conference circus given by the Swede Aron Modig in Cuba, while he was kept in solitary confinement without charges, just before he was deported from the country without being allowed to meet my family, as we had requested as he was a friend and we would be the ones most affected. Aron was in the car with my father the day of the long-expected attack on our family (nearly always with witnesses, to terrorize them, like an exemplary measure) and was captured by the State Security immediately after the car was run off the road. I asked the Assistant Secretary whether the independent investigation we have been demanding into the death of Oswaldo Payá and  Harold Cepero would form a part of the dialogue with the Cuban government. “This is always a point that we raise,” she answered in agreement. She also explained that they were planning to discuss human rights, without saying when. She was speaking in the normal way officials do, as if they weren’t travelling to the heart of the longest-running dictatorship on the planet to meet criminal functionaries, some of whom worked as spies in her own United States. The Cuban government has lied to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Crimes, when he had asked them for information about my father’s death. More than two years later, the Cuban authorities continue to deny us the autopsy report, which the family has the right to see under current laws in the island. This Friday January 21st, I am going to meet Ricardo Zúñiga in the White House. I hope that by then he will have news about the Cuban government’s response to Roberta Jacobson, about the investigation into the attack against Harold and my father that cruel day which my family feared but never were able to understand. The United States and every other country in the world ought to know that, unless all the truth comes out about this and so many other atrocities that have been mythified  as a “Revolution”, there will be no real democracy or stability in Cuba. It is possible that before Friday the accredited international press in the island will already have a reply to both parts of this inescapable question in such a high-level dialogue.  Translated by GH 22 January 2015 [1] Continue reading
[1] In recent years my country has been engaged in a deception. The Cuban government is changing the Law, but ignoring the rights of the people, which were sequestered over half a century ago. More people are allowed to enter and leave the country, but the regime decides who can enjoy this “privilege”. The migratory reform was established as a control mechanism. For example, the government has invalidated the passport of the artist Tania Bruguera for attempting a performance in Havana. Sonia Garro, a member of the Ladies in White, and one of the political prisoners released during the Washington-Havana secret deal, cannot travel abroad and thus she is still a hostage of the government, as Alan Gross was for 5 years. The same applies to the former prisoners of the Cause of the 75 from the spring of 2003. The Cuban government has permitted more people to operate small businesses, but due to the Cuban laws, entrepreneurs cannot be a factor to foster democracy because their existence as “private” owners depends on their submission to the government. There cannot be free markets where there are no free persons. The Cuban government said it would free 53 political prisoners, but instead it released them on parole. Meanwhile, many others were not freed at all. Yosvani Melchor was transferred to a maximum security prison last December. He was put in prison 4 years ago for being the son of a member of the Christian Liberation Movement, who refused to cooperate with State Security. The young artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, was imprisoned after December 17 without committing any crime. The regime turns political prisoners into pieces to be exchanged, because they can catch-and-release at will more political prisoners, and democratic nations accept this blackmail with innocent citizens. As my father did, four months before he was killed, I denounce the regime’s attempt to impose a fraudulent change, and I denounce the interests that hamper a real transition and the recovery of our sovereignty. My father also denounced the attempt to link groups of exiles to this fraudulent change. He said, “The diaspora is the diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to whom the regime denied all rights, as they do to all Cubans. In such a context of oppression, without rights and without transparency, the insertion of the diaspora would only be part of the fraudulent changes.” As the engagement would be fraudulent, if the United States were to accept the rule of the Cuban government. We have never asked our people to be isolated or embargoed, but engagement will only be real if it occurs between free peoples. We urge you to truly open up to Cuba, but to advance a helping hand is essential the solidarity with the Cuban citizenry. It is essential to support the peaceful and legal changes that thousands of Cubans have presented to their fellow citizens and to the Cuban Parliament, an alternative that allows our people to decide their own future. There is no respect for the self-determination of the Cuban people when negotiations are a secret pact between elites, or when there is no mention that the Cubans can participate or be represented in their own society. I know that the US Congress and the Administration will do what you think is best for this country, which has served as refuge for nearly 20% of our population. But only a real transition to democracy in Cuba can guarantee stability for the hemisphere. We the Cubans are not Chinese, we are not Vietnamese, and we definitely won’t accept a Putin-like model towards despotism. The strategy to prevent a mass exodus from Cuba is not by saving the interests of the group now in control, this is an unstable equilibrium that could end in more social chaos and violence. In fact, this country is already facing a Cuban migratory crisis, despite the record numbers of US visas granted. More than 6,500 Cubans arrived in the United States via the Mexican border since last October, and more than 17,000 did so in the previous year. With or without the Cuban Adjustment Act, this situation will get worse because of the attempts of those in power in Cuba for self-preservation of the status quo. We Cubans want real changes, to design the prosperous country that we deserve and can build. The only violence here comes from the Cuban military against Cubans, that’s why the solution is a peaceful transition, not an appeasement. The way that you can promote stability in the region is through supporting strategies that engage the popular will, to reach the end of totalitarianism with dignity for everyone. You have the opportunity to support the petition for a constitutional plebiscite in favor of multi-party and free elections, already signed by thousands of citizens in the Varela Project, as is allowed for the Cuban constitution. There is an active campaign by Cubans from all over the globe, asking for rights for all Cubans and the Plebiscite, which is a first vote for the long-lasting changes that Cuba needs. On 22 July 2012, Cuban State Security detained the car in which my father, Oswaldo Payá, and my friend Harold Cepero, along with two young European politicians, were traveling. All of them survived, but my father disappeared for hours only to reappear dead, in the hospital in which Harold would die without medical attention. The Cuban government wouldn’t have dared to carry out its death threats against my father if the US government and the democratic world had been showing solidarity. If you turn your face, impunity rages. While you slept, the regime was conceiving their cleansing of the pro-democracy leaders to come. While you sleep, a second generation of dictators is planning with impunity their next crimes. That is why we hope that this Congress demands that the petition for an independent investigation, regarding the attack against Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, be included in the negotiations with the Cuban government, and that we hear publicly what response is given to this point.  Knowing the whole truth is essential in any transition process, and to tolerate impunity is to endanger the lives of all Cubans wherever we live. Don’t turn your backs on Cubans again; don’t earn the distrust of the new actors of our inevitably free future, in exchange for complicity with a gerontocracy who belongs to the Cold War era. I want to conclude with the words my father wrote to President Obama 5 years ago: “Your government must move forward and extend a hand to the people and government of Cuba, but with the request that the hands of Cuban citizens not be tied. Otherwise, the opening will only be for the Cuban government, and will be another episode of an international spectacle full of hypocrisy. A spectacle that reinforces oppression, and plunges the Cuban people deeper into the lie and total defenselessness, seriously damaging the desire of Cubans for the inevitable changes to be achieved peacefully. The pursuit of friendship between the United States of America and Cuba is inseparable from the pursuit of liberty. We want to be free and be friends.” God bless and protect our peoples. Thank you. Rosa María Payá Acevedo 3 February 2015 Original in English [1] Continue reading
[embed][/embed] 24 January 2015 Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38392" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Rosa Maria Paya[/caption] 24 January 2015 (EFE) --Rosa MariaPayá, daughter of the late Cuban activist OswaldoPayá, in a meeting today with the senior advisor for Latin America at the White House, defended the need to "stop the impunity" of the Cuban government against dissidents on the island, and the right to decide for Cubans. Payá, who left the island a year ago, participated in a forum on human rights, before meeting with Ricardo Zúñiga, who is part of the White House delegation that, since June 2013, secretly negotiated with Cuba the rapprochement between the two countries. Speaking with EFE after the meeting, the activist explained that she sent the US official some “very specific” points that, in her judgment, “should be addressed with the Cuban government, which of course address ending the impunity with which State Security operates on the island.” The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) activist (as was her father), lamented the harassment to which some of her compatriots are subjected, a complaint that has been elevated to international organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), before which she asked in 2013 for protective measures for her family. "We want the democratic governments which are in communication with the Cuban government, to approach not only the Government but also Cuban citizens," said the activist. The 26-year-old daughter of dissident Oswaldo Payá -- who died along with activist Harold Cepero in a traffic accident in 2012 -- used the meeting at the White House to call for an independent investigation into what happened. "What they have said to me is that there will be a discussion on human rights and that is where we want to influence, not only on the subject of independent investigation, (...) but in favor of that which is the basis of Cuban democracy,” he said. This week negotiations begin in Havana to restore diplomatic relations after the thaw announced by both governments last December 17. In this new scenario, Payá believes that "there are some possibilities to bring pressure for the rights of Cubans," supporting some demands "consistent with democratic values" such as a plebiscite to "ask citizens if they want to participate in free and pluralistic elections.” "No Cuban who is younger than 80 has ever participated in fair, competitive and free elections, so it is time that Cubans can decide their own future," said the young woman who asked the democracies of the world to “support the right of Cubans to decide.” "The Chileans did it in the eighties, the international community supported the Chilean plebiscite, Cubans deserve no less," she said. Payá’s hope, she said, lies “not in what a foreign government can do for Cuba, but what we Cubans can do for ourselves, and I hope the democracies of the world will support this.” The young woman said that a commitment to the request for an independent investigation into the death of her father will be on the negotiating table, as well as support for the right of Cubans to decide. [1] Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_38273" align="aligncenter" width="443"] [1] Roberta Jacobson (From Marti-Noticias)[/caption] 14ymedio, Clive Rudd Fernandez, 22 January 2015 -- In July of last year, when I talked to some of the victims of the “Marzo de 13” Tugboat massacre [2] in the Bay of Havana, I found a list of horrifying statistics. Two of them would make any halfway decent human being shudder: the bodies recovered from the sea as a result of the sinking of the boat were never returned to the families, and there was never an independent investigation into the massacre in which 41 Cubans lost their lives. Ten of them were minors. What was so shocking about these events was not just the impunity of those who perpetrated the atrocity on Cuban soil, but that what happened on 13 July 1994 is a pattern that has been repeated almost since the Revolutionary government took power in 1959. The violent deaths, on 22 July 2012, of Oswaldo Payá, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Throught, and Harold Cepero, young leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, followed the same path of an absence of justice and the utter helplessness of the affected families. Although in this case the bodies were handed over to the families, neither Payá nor Harold were given an autopsy or an independent investigation. With the policy changes of the Obama administration and the Havana dictatorship, some voices have begun to ask for independent investigations of the violent deaths, especially where it is known that the authorities had some participation. Other think that these kinds of “problems” have to full potential to point the accusing finger at the face of the government in Havana and that “this is not the opportune moment to talk about accusations, but rather the issues that bring both nations closer,” like an independent blogger on the Island told me. [caption id="attachment_38274" align="alignleft" width="300"] [3] Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero[/caption] The international media ignores the issue to the same extent. The saddest thing isn't that they don’t emphasize these presumed assassinations, but rather that the majority of us, Cubans inside and outside the country, don’t consider it one of the most important issues to address. An independent investigation into the deaths of Osvaldo Payá and Harold Cepero protects all of us Cubans. The alleged “accidents” and “careless doctors” who caused the deaths of Laura Pollán, Oswaldo Payá, Harold Cepero and many other Cubans are the extrajudicial executioners that hang like the Sword of Damocles over the heads of all Cubans living on the Island. Those who dare to dissent and openly criticize the Government have felt the danger much more closely. Many of them have received death threats from members of State Security, who act with total impunity, as they themselves know, without legal consequences. [caption id="attachment_38275" align="alignleft" width="300"] [4] Rosa María Payá[/caption] Last night I heard that Rosa María Payá met Robert Jacobson on a plane, when the daughter of the Cuban dissident was returning from a short trip to Washington, where she had the privilege of being the guest of Senator Marco Rubio at the State of the Union. The Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs was on her way to Havana to meet with officials from the Cuban Government in one of the meetings between the two nations at the highest level since the Jimmy Carter administration. In this short encounter, Rosa María Payá asked whether the investigation into the death of her father would be on the negotiating table. The answer, as politically correct as it was evasive, was, "This is always a point that we can raise*,” this is always an issue we can touch on. Maybe I’m wrong, but judging by the response, the issue of the unexplained deaths of opponents like Oswaldo Payá and Laura Pollán will remain unaddressed (for now) and, with them, the fear every Cuban has of being murdered at any moment, without consequences for the executioners, nor for those who give the orders. *In English in the original [1] [2] [3] [4] Continue reading
See below for translation OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA from Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo December 19, 2014, The Washington Post Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement. Mr. Barack Obama President of the … Continue reading Continue reading
But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than ten years ago, more than 25,000 Cubans proposed a project of legal reform called the Varela Project, to hold a plebiscite and ask the people whether or not they want free … Continue reading Continue reading
“But Cubans are tired, Cubans want changes. More than 10 years ago, more than 25,000 Cubans supported a project of legal reform, called the Varela Project, to hold a plebiscite and ask the people whether or not they wanted free … Continue reading Continue reading
Remarks of human rights advocate Rosa Maria Payá on why Cuba should not be elected to the UN Rights Council, delivered at UN headquarters on November 4, 2013, at a press conference organized by UN Watch and the Human Rights … Continue reading Continue reading
Rosa Maria Payá at the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought award ceremony in Strasbourg, France, in front of a photo of her father, Oswaldo Payá, receiving the prize in 2002. Continue reading
Poster: Rolando Pulido Luis Leonel León: The Black Eyes of Rosa María Payá From El Nuevo Herald The magazine “People en Español” chose her as one of the 25 most powerful Latin women. On a list that includes Jennifer López, … Continue reading Continue reading
Despite daily violations of the most elementary freedoms, Cuba has once again managed to join the United Nations Human Rights Council. Rosa Maria Paya has continued to present herself before this and other international forums to denounce the reality, request … Continue reading Continue reading