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Senate Passes Resolution Honoring Late Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Payá

April 13, 2018

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) applauded the passage of a bipartisan resolution honoring the legacy of  Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá on the sixth anniversary of his death, and calling for an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding it.

An outspoken activist for free speech, democracy, and human rights, Payá died in a suspicious car crash on July 22, 2012. While the Castro regime maintains Payá’s death was an accident, Payá’s family and the driver involved in the crash claim another car forced them off the road. The Cuban government has steadfastly refused to allow an independent investigation of the troubling death of one of its noted citizens. In light of these suspicious circumstances Sen. Cruz has served as an advocate calling for the Cuban government to release the truth of the circumstances surrounding Payá’s death.

“Oswaldo Payá dedicated his life to the cause of liberty in Cuba,” Sen. Cruz said. “Though the Castro regime sought to stifle his work, his legacy continues to serve and inspire freedom-loving Cubans. We honor his memory, his brave fight for democracy, and his commitment to freedom.”

“Oswaldo Payá was a courageous voice for justice and democracy in Cuba, and his death was a tragic blow to the dissident movement on the island. Our resolution honors his life and legacy and calls for a transparent and independent investigation into his death, which is shamefully overdue” said Durbin. “We stand proudly with the Payá family and the people of Cuba in demanding peaceful democratic reform and the release of all political prisoners.” 

“Mr. Paya was a transformational leader capable of channeling the collective demands of the Cuban people for greater freedom and human rights,” said Menendez. “Six years later, his legacy remains strong and we cannot give up on our efforts to ensure a fully independent investigation of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his tragic death.  In honor of Mr. Paya’s legacy, and on behalf of all Cubans still suffering under the Castro regime, I vow to continue speaking out against violations of human rights and democratic values in Cuba.”

An early critic of the Castro regime, Oswaldo Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement (MLC) in 1988 to promote democracy and civil liberties through non-violent resistance. A decade later, the organization established the Varela Project, which sought to advance democratic reforms by exploiting a provision in the Cuban Constitution allowing the public to introduce legislation. In 2003, the Cuban government arrested 25 members of the Project and 40 members of the MLC, drawing international condemnation and sparking the creation of the Ladies in White movement. Payá, his family, and collaborators endured years of harassment by authorities for their efforts to improve the lives of the Cuban people.

As a tribute to those who have contested the cruelty and oppression of the Castro regime, Sen. Cruz has led a bipartisan effort to rename the street in front of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. as “Oswaldo Payá Way”. Sen. Cruz has worked closely with Payá’s daughter, Rosa María to continue her father’s legacy and the fight for democracy for all freedom-loving Cubans oppressed by the Castro regime.

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