Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Tuesday July 24,2012

Cuban dissidents have vowed to press ahead with their fight for more
political and civil rights despite the death of prominent activist
Oswaldo Paya in a car crash.

Foreign governments from the United States to the European Union sent
messages of condolence.

Several hundred relatives, friends and fellow dissidents converged on a
chapel in the Cerro neighbourhood Havana for Mr Paya's wake after his
body arrived from the eastern province of Granma. As the coffin carrying
his remains entered, many applauded.

"He was a person sincerely committed to achieving the best for the Cuban
people," said Miriam Leyva, one of the founding members of the activist
group Ladies in White.

Earlier at Mr Paya's home, a close associate gave thanks for what he
called an outpouring of support.

"I can promise you and assure you we will continue our struggle, our
demands for the civil rights of all Cubans," Ernesto Martini told the

Mr Paya, 60, gained international fame as the lead organiser of the
Varela Project, a signature-gathering drive asking authorities for a
referendum on guaranteeing rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.

The initiative launched a decade ago was seen as the biggest non-violent
campaign to change the system Fidel Castro established after the 1959
Cuban revolution.

Mr Paya died on Sunday afternoon along with another dissident, Harold
Cepero Escalante, in the crash in La Gavina, 500 miles east of the
capital. Authorities said the driver of the rental car carrying Mr Paya
and Mr Cepero lost control and struck a tree.

Fellow passengers Jens Aron Modig, a Swedish citizen, and Angel
Carromero, a Spaniard, were taken to hospital with minor injuries and
later released. It was not immediately clear who was behind the wheel.


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