"Paya Was An Example Of Dedication And Persistence"
14YMEDIO, Havana | Julio 22, 2015
Three years after the death of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, 14ymedio
has collected the opinions of some Cuban activists who knew the leader
of the Christian Liberation Movement. They are people who shared
projects and risks with him, and who admired or were inspired by his
civic labor. Let these seven testimonies serve to approach the legacy of
a man who devoted his best years to achieving greater rights and
freedoms for the citizenry.
Father José Conrado
He has left us a testimony of life, a consistent life in service to his
people, a courageous life that knew how to respond to the difficulties
and the circumstances of the times. A life true to his convictions of
faith and his love for his country until his last moment. It is a
testimony that we will never forget and at the same time something to be
deeply grateful for, because men like him are the ones who are needed,
men like him are those who build a people from within.
Martha Beatriz Roque
It is very difficult to summarize his life and the legacy he left us in
a few lines. First of all, we have to note his actions as a father, a
husband and a member of the Catholic Church. He knew how to pass on an
excellent education for his children and to sow love in his family. Now
we have Rosa María [his daughter], who is continuing his struggle and
also persevering in seeing that those who murdered him are brought to
justice. His life's companion, Ofelita, is doing the same thing.
Payá attested in favor of democracy and his legacy is reflected in the
continuity of his work. One can say these men who have acted with
dignity in life, in times as difficult as those we Cubans have had to
live through, have not died; they continue with us.
Jose Daniel Ferrer
I always had great respect and great affection for him, and joined in
with the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) for many years, especially
on Project Varela. I would like to highlight one way he is remembered in
the eastern region, especially in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The
term that we are referred to by, whether we are members of UNPACU, of
CID, of the Republican Party, the Citizens for Democracy, or any other
organization, is "Varelistas" ["supporters of Project Varela"], and not
because of a direct relation to Felix Verala, who well deserves it for
his contribution to Cuban nationality, but precisely because of Project
Varela, which not only collected thousands of signatures at that time,
but also left a lasting impact.
So that is what people call us there and, on occasion, even our worst
enemies do so as well. So every time they call us Varelistas, they are
The first thing I want to point out about the legacy Oswaldo left us is
the integrity of one person who throughout his life remained consistent
with what he thought and believed. Secondly, he left us what in my view
is the most important civic exercise of the last decades: the Varela
Project. Third, he left us the perseverance of a man who believed in the
cause of freedom and democracy for Cuba and who dedicated his entire
life to it.
Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart
His legacy goes far beyond even the Christian Liberation Movement he
founded. His precious heritage belongs to Cuba and is found in the
shared yearning for democracy and respect for human rights, for all
individuals who think as he thought. For this he will always be
respected. When Cuba can enjoy democracy, he will not be with is, but
his teachings will be.
Felix Navarro Rodriguez
He was a great leader in the peaceful Cuban opposition because he
accomplished what no one had been able to accomplish, which was to
collect those thousands of signatures supporting Project Varela and
doing it within the very laws of Cuba.
Still today I feel I see him, with the enthusiasm that characterized
him, seeking unity among Cubans so that we can manage the change in a
peaceful way, so that the people would be the owners of their own
opinions and be able to put their rights into practice. It fills us with
great satisfaction to have been able to be at the side of a man like him
at those moments before the Black Spring of 2003, and to continue
working with his daughter Rosa María today.
He was a very self-sacrificing person who was characterized by believing
in what he was doing. He was convinced that he could fight for a better
life for Cubans to achieve progress and democracy for Cuba. He was a
practicing Catholic and also a tireless worker. In his specialty,
medical equipment repair, he was acknowledged and respected, not only in
his workplace but in all public health facilities where he went to
Payá was an example of self-sacrifice and above all persistence, so his
legacy extends beyond the MCL and Project Varela; an example as a human
being, as a Cuban. That is what remains in my memory and I appreciate
all the years I knew him in the midst of such difficult situations.
Source: "Paya Was An Example Of Dedication And Persistence" -