Monday, July 23, 2012

Oswaldo Payá, Rest in Freedom

Oswaldo Payá, Rest in Freedom / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

Oswaldo Payá (1952 – 2012)

No one should die before reaching their dreams of freedom. With the
death of Oswaldo Payá (1952 – 2012), Cuba has suffered a dramatic loss
for its present and an irreplaceable loss for its future. It was not
just an exemplary man, a loving father and a fervent Catholic who stop
breathing yesterday, Sunday, but also an irreplaceable citizen for our
nation. His tenacity shone forth since I was a teenager, when he chose
not to hide the scapulars — as so many others did — and instead publicly
acknowledged his faith. In 1988 his civic responsibility was forged in
the founding of the Christian Liberation Movement, and years later in
the initiative known as the Varela Project.

I remember — as if it were yesterday — the image of Payá outside the
National Assembly of People's Power on that March 10, 2002. The boxes
filled with over 10,000 signatures in his arms, while he delivered them
to the infamous Cuban parliament. The official answer would be a legal
reform, a pathetic "constitutional mummification" that would tie us
"irrevocably" to the current system. But the dissident of a thousand and
one battles was not dissuaded and two years later he and another group
of activists presented 14,000 more signatures. With them they demanded
that a referendum be called to allow freedom of association, expression,
and the press, economic guarantees, and an amnesty that would free the
political prisoners. With the disproportion that characterized it, Fidel
Castro's government answered with the imprisonments of the Black Spring
of 2003. Over 40 members of the Christian Liberation Movement were
sentenced in that fateful March.

Although he was not arrested at that time, for years Payá suffered the
constant surveillance of his home, arbitrary arrests, repudiation
rallies and threats. He ever missed a chance to denounce the prison
conditions of some dissident, or another wrongful conviction. I never
saw him break down, or yell, or insult his political opponents. The
great lesson he left us is his equanimity, pacifism, putting ethics
above differences, the conviction that through civic action and through
legal action, an inclusive Cuba is closer to us. Rest in peace, or
better still, rest released.

23 July 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment