Sen. Cruz: Oswaldo Payá’s Memory Continues to Inspire Dissidents in Cuba and in Other Countries Under Tyrannical Rule
Commemorates the legacy of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor to honor the legacy of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá and commemorate the upcoming anniversary of his death.
“With time the oppressions of the Castro regime gave rise to remarkable leaders like Oswaldo Payá, whose life work was the peaceful overthrow of Communism, and whose legacy we honor today,” Sen. Cruz said. “Oswaldo Payá dedicated his life to promoting democratic freedoms and human rights in Cuba. His memory continues to inspire dissidents, in Cuba and in other countries under tyrannical rule. […] Fidel may be dead, Raúl may be retired, but the evil of the Castros persists.”
An unbending critic of the Castro regime, Oswaldo Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) 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 leveraging 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 MCL, 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 is leading a bipartisan effort, joined by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), to rename the street in front of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. as ‘Oswaldo Payá Way.’ Sen. Cruz also joined a bipartisan resolution, which passed the Senate, honoring the legacy of Oswaldo Payá and calling for an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. Sen. Cruz continues to work closely with Payá’s daughter, Rosa María, the founder of Cuba Decide, to preserve her father’s legacy and to promote the efforts of brave Cubans fighting for democracy.
“Madam President, I rise today to give tribute to the spirit of the Cuban people, the people of my forefathers, who still live under a corrupt and violent Communist regime, and to honor the memory of Oswaldo Payá.
“Oswaldo was a champion for freedom. He died six years ago this Sunday—on July 22nd, 2012—in a car crash that is widely believed to have been orchestrated by the Castro regime.
“The plight of the brave people of Cuba has been marked by terrible suffering under both the Castro regime, and the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista before it.
“The Castros—and their revolutionary terrorist lackeys like Che Guevara—are responsible for the suffering and murder of countless innocent Cubans.
“It is because of these oppressors that my family fled their beloved home in Cuba for a better life in the United States.
“My father, born and raised in Cuba, fought in the revolution, initially believing that the principles of freedom were what the revolution was all about. He fought against Batista, a cruel dictator, and he was imprisoned and tortured by Batista’s thugs.
“And then my aunt, his younger sister, my Tía Sonia, who was there after the revolution succeeded, who discovered along with the rest of the world that Fidel Castro was a Communist - who saw the torture, the murder - my aunt fought in the counter revolution against Fidel Castro and she too, like her brother, was imprisoned and tortured except this time by Castro’s thugs.
“Both my father and my aunt were kids. They were kids, who believed they were fighting for freedom. And they discovered that they went from one tyrant to an even worse tyrant – a Communist dictator who would line up dissidents and shoot them.
“The betrayal, the brutality, the violence experienced by my father, and by my aunt, were all too typical of the millions of Cubans who have suffered under the Castro regime of the last six decades.
“Fidel may be dead, Raúl may be retired, but the evil of the Castros persists.
“It still molds the Cuban regime’s fundamental opposition to truth, to freedom, and to human rights.
“But the malice and menace of Communism cannot break down the will of the Cuban people.
“Instead, it has strengthened their resolve.
“It has further united them to fight for freedom and to build a better future for their country. To establish a free Cuba.
“A Cuba not streaked by the ashes of dissident literature, or littered by the corpses of defenseless teenagers.
“A Cuba built on human decency and individual liberty.
“Where citizens are heard—not murdered.
“And speech is protected—not silenced.
“It is the Cuba envisioned by Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, his Christian Liberation Movement, and their fellow activists who continue to stand against the Castro regime.
“It is the Cuba of the young bloggers who expose the regime’s crimes and corruption at the risk of arrest, deportation, torture, or worse.
“With time the oppressions of the Castro regime gave rise to remarkable leaders like Oswaldo Payá, whose life work was the peaceful overthrow of Communism, and whose legacy we honor today.
“Oswaldo Payá dedicated his life to promoting democratic freedoms and human rights in Cuba.
“His memory continues to inspire dissidents, in Cuba and in other countries under tyrannical rule.
“Countries like Venezuela, where Nicolás Maduro routinely imprisons and murders those who dare speak out against him.
“Or Nicaragua, where the corrupt Ortega regime desperately clings to power by persecuting journalists and violently putting down protesters.
“Last year, I introduced legislation to commemorate Oswaldo’s legacy by naming the street in front of the Embassy of Cuba—located right here in Washington—as “Oswaldo Payá Way.”
“It would send a powerful statement that here in the United States of America, we stand with freedom fighters, like Oswaldo Payá.
“Who are working to bring hope and liberty to oppressed nations.
“Who are working to make a better Cuba, free of the horrors of Communist rule.
“Madam President, I’ve never been to my father’s homeland. I’ve never been to Cuba. My father has not returned to Cuba in over 60 years.
“I look forward to one day visiting Cuba, hopefully with my dad, with my Tía Sonia, with my cousin Bibi, with my whole family, my two girls, and seeing a free Cuba, where people can live according to their beliefs without fear of imprisonment, violence, or oppression.
“But today is not that day.
“There are many, like Oswaldo Payá, who have fought for this vision for a free Cuba, who are no longer with us, but their struggle will endure, and their spirits will shine a light through the darkest night.
“We will never forget them, nor cease fighting to bring about the free Cuba that they died for.
“Today, and on July 22nd, and each day thereafter, they will be remembered.
“¡Viva Cuba libre!”