During the early afternoon hours of July 22nd 2012, various Cuban activists- both in exile and from inside the island- sent out Twitter and Facebook messages regarding what seemed to be rumors about Oswaldo Paya Sardinas having died after suffering a transit accident in the Eastern province of Granma. The grim news was eventually confirmed, but Paya’s daughter- Rosa Maria Paya– and the rest of his family would not accept the state version of the events, assuring that there was no accident, but instead that forces of the Cuban regime had something to do with the tragedy, based on the fact that, according to Rosa Maria, she received testimonies that another vehicle had been persecuting Paya’s car, in which another dissident- Harold Cepero Escalante– was also aboard. Cepero also died.
The deaths were further confirmed by the Twitter users Yoani Sanchez (@yoanisanchez) and Luis Felipe Rojas (@alambradas) who mentioned the secretary to the Bishop of Bayamo, Carlos Amador, as a source. Amador had told Yoani Sanchez that the communist authorities “did not let him see Paya’s body“.
Sánchez continued, explaining that “witnesses are saying that the vehicle aboad which Oswaldo Paya was traveling on was rammed by another car which came out from the side of the road“, a completely different testimony than that offered by the state-run media which claims that Paya’s vehicle had lost control, slipped off the road and crashed against a tree.
Meanwhile, Luis Felipe Rojas added that the Provincial Hospital of Bayamo, where the bodies of Paya and Cepero were taken, was “completely surrounded by military forces“.
Two other people in the car- both foreign politicians- suffered injuries but were apparently out of danger, although Yoani Sanchez expressed worry for their lives, considering that both of them will be essential witnesses. As of July 26th, both foreigners are still under detention in Cuba.
Peaceful dissidents within Cuba have condemned the events and, in their majority, have declared that it was not an accident, but instead a premeditated assassination.
From Twitter: Former political prisoner Ivan Hernandez Carrillo (@ivanlibre) wrote, “Nothing of what has happened to Oswaldo Paya was an accident, behind all of this is the murderous hand of State Security“. Pedro Arguelles Moran (@PedroArguellesM), also an ex political prisoner, said that Paya “died a formidable civil fighter and lover of freedom and democracy. May God have him in all his glory“, in addition to describing the situation as “an intentional accident“. Librado Linares, another reknown former prisoner of conscience, expressed that “the Cuban nation has suffered a very sad loss: Oswaldo Paya. Honesty, perseverance, and good political instincts characterized him“.
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet (@OscarBiscet) also used his Twitter account to recall the phrase that Oswaldo Paya once said: “They have told me before that they will kill me before the regime ends“. Biscet continued, “I condemn the Cuban government for his death“.
A number of other activists offered their condolences to Paya’s family, as was the case with Yonart Rodríguez Ávila who explained that the pro-democracy group which he is part of- Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy– “laments the tragic death of the dissident leader… our sincere condolences to his family, may God give them strength“. Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, wrote that “the Cuban civic movement has suffered a huge loss with the death of Paya, a man who was necessary for national reconstruction“.
Meanwhile, the activist Virgilio Mantilla Arango, declared that the organization which he presides over, the Camaguey Union, has convoked “all of the opposition to carry out vigils in memory of the tireless fighter for human rights…Oswaldo Paya“.
Luis Enrique Ferrer, exiled former political prisoner, said that his brother, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, said that his organiation “demands an immediate explanation” of Paya’s death.
Meanwhile, frome exile, countless messages condemning the Cuban regime and offering condolences and messages of solidarity to the families of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero propped up throughout Twitter and Facebook.
Caridad Caballero, recently exiled Lady in White tweeted (@caricaballero) that this 22nd of July was “a sad day. Our condolences to the relatives and our Cuban brothers, we are torn by the pain“, while Darsi Ferrer described Paya as a “tireless fighter“.
The famous exiled Cuban musicians Albita Rodriguez and Willy Chirino also expressed their pain. Rodriguez wrote, “Oswaldo Paya has died… one of the most important dissidents against the Cuban dictatorship…may he Rest in Peace, my poor Cuba“.
Willy Chirino expressed, “The trampled Cuban people need allies, men and women of any profession who denounced the Cuban horrors. Rest in Peace Oswaldo Paya“.
Note from this blog: The Cuban dictatorship has a very long list of assassinations, victims who have been robbed of their lives for simply being against the totalitarian system and for demanding the rights of all the people. Among the many names are now Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero. Although they were victims of a planned assassination, they also continue to LIVE in the struggle for a free Cuba. We do not want any more deaths, we want freedom. No more dictatorship.