Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Rosa María Payá ─ Castroism After Castro: Cuba Totalitarian Self-Transition, From Power to Power

Friday, April 24, 2015

7:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

This talk will be offered in Spanish.

Watch webcast

Rosa María Payá is a Cuban human rights activist and young leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), which was founded in 1988 by her late father Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. In the wake of the contraversial deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, Rosa María Payá is currently calling for an independent and transparent investigation into their deaths and is urging that it be included in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations between with the United States and Cuban government. Alongside this fight for transparency and justice, Rosa María Payá is actively working to advance a participatory transition to democracy that respects the self-determination of the Cuban people.

Addressing the Foreign Relations Subcommittee of the United States Congress, Payá stated:

"In recent years my country has been engaged in a deception. The Cuban government is changing the Law, but ignoring the rights of the people, which were sequestered over half a century ago.

We urge you to truly open up to Cuba, but to advance a helping hand is essential to solidarity with the Cuban citizenry. It is essential to support the peaceful and legal changes that thousands of Cubans have presented to their fellow citizens and to the Cuban Parliament, an alternative that allows our people to decide their own future.

There is no respect for the self-determination of the Cuban people when negotiations are a secret pact between elites, or when there is no mention that the Cubans can participate or be represented in their own society.

I know that the US Congress and the Administration will do what you think is best for this country, which has served as refuge for nearly 20% of our population. But only a real transition to democracy in Cuba can guarantee stability for the hemisphere.

The Cuban government wouldn’t have dared to carry out its death threats against my father if the US government and the democratic world had been showing solidarity. If you turn your face, impunity rages. While you slept, the regime was conceiving their cleansing of the pro-democracy leaders to come. While you sleep, a second generation of dictators is planning with impunity their next crimes.

That is why we hope that this Congress demands that the petition for an independent investigation, regarding the attack against Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, be included in the negotiations with the Cuban government, and that we hear publicly what response is given to this point. Knowing the whole truth is essential in any transition process, and to tolerate impunity is to endanger the lives of all Cubans wherever we live.

Don’t turn your backs on Cubans again; don’t earn the distrust of the new actors of our future, in exchange for complicity with a gerontocracy that belongs to the Cold War era."

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies