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Monday, July 22, 2013

Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero: One year later

One Year Without Answers, Without Oswaldo, Without Harold...

“Already many Cubans have discovered and soon all of them will discover that this oppression, that this imposed lie, can be overcome recognizing ourselves as brothers to conquer our rights peacefully. So there is hope.”
~ Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas,  Somos Liberación Havana, Cuba, July  2012.

"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

We remember Oswaldo and Harold and their sacrifices for a Free Cuba.

On Friday night we sat with and listened to Ofelia, Rosa Maria, and Tony talk about their friends and loved ones and their legacy.

Over twitter today we are remembering them and tonight at 8:00pm we will be praying for them at a Mass at La Ermita de la Caridad.


As a student movement that started in August of 1993 we embraced and raised awareness about Oswaldo's projects early on and over the years and translated some of his earlier statements. For example in 1997 when bombs went off in Havana we translated a document the Christian Liberation Movement had prepared which in part stated:
No one can justify terrorist violence and attacks on defenseless human beings with any kind of reasoning, and much less by pretending to defend freedom and justice. Anyone who hides cynically to make attempts against human life violates the dignity of the human being and conspires against freedom and justice.
 The end does not justify the means. Lies and terror lead to death and fear. Truth and love produce freedom and life.
FREEDOM AND LIFE, a phrase first pronounced by the Christian Liberation Movement in its Proclamation Document, continues to be the essence of the path and the goal that we are determined to follow.
The document was signed by four courageous men, the leading signer was Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas followed by Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez, Ramón Antunez Gonzalez and Miguel Saludes García

One would also remember that the current dictatorship in Cuba engaged in acts of terror in the name of freedom in the struggle against Batista and the world later saw how that ended with a dictatorship that did not last seven years replaced by one that has gone on for more than 50. 

We translated other documents from Spanish to English and from a distance followed his remarkable life as an activist. Including his efforts to get on the ballot to run for public office that placed the dictatorship on the defensive and awards that he won.

We saw his efforts to unite the opposition in an All United coalition that then went about collecting signatures for the Varela Project.

Neri Martinez, president of the Free Cuba Foundation, when Oswaldo Payá visited Miami in 2003 was able to see and meet him.

Years later five members of the Free Cuba Foundation backed Oswaldo's call for a National Dialogue in 2009:
Jenny Grau, F.C.F., EUA 
Susana Navajas, F.C.F., EUA 
Yosvani Oliva, F.C.F., EUA
Pedro M. Ross, F.C.F., EUA

John Suárez, F.C.F., EUA
Without knowing it when Juanes decided to hold a peace without borders concert in Cuba our views coincided with Oswaldo's that the Columbian singer had the right to go to Cuba and to sing. Furthermore that it was not fair to question human rights defenders about Juanes's concert. Oswaldo pointed out that the press should question Juanes about the integrity of not speaking up about human rights defenders and peace activists imprisoned in Cuba while holding a peace without borders concert.

We did precisely the same thing in a statement that we released prior to the 2009 concert. We defended the musicians right to play in Cuba but then said: 
...speaking up for human rights and the immediate release of all prisoners of conscienceis essential. Only then will this concert truly live up to its name of “Peace Without Borders”, otherwise it risks being remembered as the “Censored Within Boundaries” concert. This is the concern raised by many Cuban artists both on the island and in exile, who insist the concert live up to its name. 
 We mourn the loss of a great friend of Cuba and offer our condolences to his family and friends and join them in prayers for Oswaldo and Harold. Today we pray and remember and tomorrow we continue in the struggle for a Free Cuba.


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