Something Unpublished about the Paya Prize to OAS Secretary Luis Almagro

March 6, 2017 |

By Vicente Morin Aguado

Rosa María Payá y Luis Almagro durante una visita de la primera a la OEA en Washington antes de la cita que no se dió en La Habana.

HAVANA TIMES — The Communist Party’s Juventud Rebelde newspaper had the following headline on its front page on the February 22nd edition: “Failed anti-Cuban provocation”. When you find out what really happened in Havana over the attempt by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro to receive the Oswaldo Paya Freedom and Life Prize, we can say that this headline is far from reality.

The prize-giving ceremony took place the morning of February 22nd in the living room of the Paya-Acevedo’s humble home in the capital city’s El Cerro municipality.

Boris Gonzalez Arenas, an independent journalist who was present at the ceremony, wrote in Diario de Cuba:

“The room was too small to receive all of the members of civil society who could come, from the diplomatic corps and foreign press. The available chairs had been collected initially, and everyone present had to stand for the duration of the event. It was a good example of how, thanks to Castrismo, such events must be held in domestic spaces instead of public ones, among other strange appropriations.”

In fact, accounts indicate that almost a hundred people were present, clarifying that diplomatic corp members were from the United States, Sweden and the Czech Republic. Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of Osvaldo Paya Sardinas, leads the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, an organization which is handing over this award for the first time. When speaking about the goverment’s refusal to grant the prize-winner and other invited Latin American figures an entry visa, she stressed:

“The awards will not be sent to their owners, they will be kept to then be handed over in person in this same room in a free Cuba.” Her statement coincides with her former statements when she said that “The political scene towards Cuba needs to change.”

Meanwhile, Almagro, former Uruguayan Minister during leftist Jose Mujica’s government, specified with respect to not being granted a visa from the Cuban government that “the ceremony which I had been invited to in Havana, is no different to other similar events I have participated in in other countries within the region, which take place without the government supporting them, without censorship, because this is part of tolerance and democratic values.”

Once again, the Cuban Communist Party has fulfilled its stated objective when it comes to stopping any public impact from the opposition, no matter how peaceful it is. The fear is obvious in the face of a simple awards ceremony in a small house in El Cerro, handing over “a prize invented by an illegal and small anti-Cuban group”, which is what the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry said, which then went on to say: “Maybe some people got it wrong and thought that Cuba would give up its principles for keeping appearances.”

Talking about principles and appearances, it’s worth remembering that Osvaldo Paya Sardinas died in a car accident on July 22, 2012 along the main highway, near Bayamo, along with his contributor Harold Cepero. Government authorities refused to give the case complete transparency which it deserved, because of the high-profile figure of Paya.

The leader of Proyecto Varela, collected, in accord with the 1976 Socialist Constitution and which is still in full-force, over 25,000 signatures, co-signed with every signee’s ID cards, asking for freedom of expression and association, freedom for political prisoners, as well as a legal initiative which the Constitution grants to any movement once it reaches at least 10,000 signatures.

The Sakharov human rights prize-winner from the European Parliament and Nobel prize nominee on several occasions made the following statement which says a lot about his essence:

“Give the Cuban people the chance to speak and you’ll see how this section of the population who marches in uniform and shouts in Revolution Square, will vote for new laws, will vote for truth, will vote for freedom.”

Vicente Morin Aguado: ememultiplicada@nauta.cu
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  • Rich Haney

    If Rosa Maria Paya wants to continue her peaceful protests or even start a grassroots Revolution that involves only Cubans on the island unsupported by foreign factions, then fine. Even Thomas Jefferson said a revolution every 50 years or so might be needed to wrest government control “back from the moneyed elite.” The brave Cuban women, as supported by many facts including numerous photos, who began the successful Cuban Revolution in 1952 and 1953 were outraged, as historic photos of their posters readily reveal, by “Batista murders of our children.” But as Ms. Paya discovered, the Cuban government as well as many everyday citizens who belong to or sympathize with the block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution will oppose her foreign involvements in solid defense of Cuban sovereignty. Anti-Cuban propaganda, of which the U. S. Cuban-American counter-revolutionaries are supreme experts, seems to pretend that Cuba has the only sovereign government in the entire world that strongly resists foreign intervention or foreign support of dissidents.

    For reasons stated above, I believe that siding with Cuban dissidents at every turn is not only misleading from a journalistic standpoint but it also perpetuates falsehoods as to why, against all odds, the Cuban Revolution prevailed on Jan. 1, 1959 and, just as amazingly, has survived after all these decades. While brave marches by Cuban women kick-started Cuba’s revolution in 1952 and 1953, the U. S. support of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship FUELED IT, reminding Cubans why Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and so many others died fighting Spanish imperialism. I believe that the Revolutionary government gets a home-court boost EVERY TIME foreign support of dissidents is publicized. The most famous Miss Paya and Mr. Almagro photo, I believe, is the one that shows them signing anti-Cuban documents IN WASHINGTON. That photo harms Ms. Paya’s position in Cuba, including the plan to have Mr. Almagro visit her Havana home for what the Cuban government interpreted as yet another counter-revolutionary episode. I believe there is also a Paya home in Miami so why wasn’t the Almagro ceremony held there? Was it because the anti-Cuban headlines would be bigger if it had been held in Havana OR IF the Cuban government prevented it from being held on Cuban soil?

    Regarding the death of Miss Paya’s honorable father, a non-propaganda article in the Denver Post reveals there are two sides to the auto crash that killed Mr. Paya — the dissidents’ side and Cuba’s side. Nolan Arenado — the 25-year-old U. S. superstar Major League and WBC baseball player — took 24 members of his California family to Cuba back in November and they were on the island the night Fidel Castro died. The Arenado family toured the island — North to South and East to West — but the long article in the Denver Post about the visit pointed out that the Arenado family did not travel at all at night because the dismal conditions of rural Cuban roads made them far too “dangerous for nighttime travel.” Arenado, whose father was once imprisoned in Cuba, raved about how “wonderful” the Cuban people were. He played stick-ball in the streets with young men and gave them brand-new equipment. The article said when Nolan handed a Cuban boy a new soccer ball, he “burst out crying over his new possession.” Nolan said he will be back to make more Cubans “burst out crying.” At age 25 he has plenty of money to do so. He has already won four MLB Gold Gloves on defense and on offense he has hit over 40 home runs EACH OF THE LAST TWO YEARS AND HAD OVER 130 RUNS-BATTED-IN BOTH YEARS.