The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) has announced that there will be various activities to honor Oswaldo PayaSardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante this upcoming 22nd of July of 2013 in Cuba and in Miami, on the first anniversary of the death of these pro-freedom activists.
On their website, the MCL explains that there will be a Mass at 3 PM on the 22nd in the Chapel of the Colon Cemetery, in Havana. The organizers of this event ask all participants to take flowers to later march silently to the place where Oswaldo Paya reposes.
At 8 PM on the same day, there will also be a Mass the Ermita de la Caridad in Miami, Florida, which will be presided by Juan Rumin, current rector of this historic and symbolic sanctuary.
Also, on Friday July 19th there will be a colloquium “about the legacy of Oswaldo Paya” at 8 PM in the Sacred Family Salon of La Inmaculada Church in Hialeah, Florida, located on 4497 West 1st Avenue, just minutes from the heart of Miami.
Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of the deceased opposition leader, wrote on her Twitter account (@RosaMariaPaya) that there will also be a tribute to Harold Cepero on Wednesday, July 17th, in Washington DC.
This 20th of May 2013, Cuban Independence Day, Cuban exiles and other members of the community of Miami went to the historic Freedom Tower, where hundreds of Cubans passed through in the 1960’s when they arrived to the United States as refugees, to participate in a chat with 3 Ladies in White: Berta Soler (national representative of the group), Laura Labrada (daughter of Laura Pollan) and Belkis Cantillo (representative of the group in Santiago de Cuba). It was an event organized by Miami Dade College.
Before the chat, the 3 Ladies in White offered a press conference, in which dissident Guillermo Farinas also took part in. There, they responded various questions by the press and debated topics such as the constant repression they face in the island for trying to assist Sunday Mass, the fact that former political prisoners of conscience can’t travel outside of the country, the warm welcome on behalf of the Cuban exile community and the current situation of the youth on the island.
Soler called on young Cubans on the island to not leave the country and to stay and fight for it, while she also called on the children and grandchildren of the older exiles to keep supporting the struggle for freedom from wherever they are.
Once the last questions were asked by the press, the 3 activists went up on stage, where Miami Dade College’s president, Eduardo Padron, awaited them. The audience received them with a standing ovation.
Cuban-born international pop star Gloria Estefan shared some words about the symbolism of the Freedom Tower and about the importance of the Ladies in White and their peaceful activism in Cuba. She pointed that “we Cubans are just one people, and nothing will ever change that, ever“. The singer handed the women a plaque with photos of the march in which thousands of Miami residents took to the streets in support of the Ladies in White on March 25 of 2010. The march was convoked by the Estefans after the women were brutally beat by State Police in Havana on March 17th and was caught on film. Estefan explained that the police authorities of Miami had confirmed to her that more than 230,000 people took part in the historic march for solidarity down Miami’s emblematic Calle Ocho.
Soler, Labrada and Cantillo were interviewed by Miami-based journalist Maria Elvira Salazar. They discussed topics such as the acts of state repression against them and other dissidents for defending freedom, the current situation of the everyday Cuban citizen, the motives which led them to take up their struggle, their convictions, and the legacy of Laura Pollan, fallen leader of the group. Her daughter, Laura Labrada, or “Laurita” as she is known within the Ladies in White, affirmed that the regime had to do with Pollan’s death. In an emotional statement, she also expressed that her mother’s passing only gave her more strength to march not only for the freedom of all political prisoners, but also the freedom of an entire nation.
Before the event came to an end, Eduardo Padron handed the women the Miami Dade College’s Presidential Medal of Freedom with the words “Guardians of Freedom” engraved.
It was another one of those encounters which reminds Cubans that, despite the geographic distance and the difference of ideas, we are only one people, one nation, that fights for freedom and needs each and every one of its sons and daughters to achieve this goal.
All photos taken by Raul Garcia and Jennifer Hernandez from “Pedazos de la Isla”. Feel free to share.
Here is a video-report with images of some of the events in which Berta Soler, representative of the Ladies in White, took part in the city of Miami, “the capital of the Cuban exile”.
The events in this video include the press conference Soler held at the University of Miami, an emotional encounter with ex political prisoners from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s in “La Casa del Preso” (‘The House of the Prisoner’), a vigil in honor of Laura Pollan, a tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo and a moving Mass at the emblematic Ermita Shrine.
Berta Soler passed through Miami inspiring and re-inspiring many, letting them know that the struggle for freedom is very much alive and that their are no Cubans from here, nor Cubans from over there…just Cubans.
Soler, representative of the Ladies in White, will participate in a heartfelt tribute to Laura Pollan (fallen leader of the Ladies) and all the victims of the Cuban dictatorship this Saturday, 27th of April, in Coral Gables (Miami) from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Merrick Park, in front of the Coral Gables Town Hall Building, on LeJeune Road and Miracle Mile.
The representation of the Ladies in White in the United States has invited all Cuban organizations and individuals to this event which is being described as a “vigil-encounter”.
After the mysterious death of Laura Pollan in 2011, numerous members of the exile community in Miami met at the same park to carry out a vigil in honor of the leader of the Ladies in White.
Berta Soler will participate in Mass at la Ermita de la Caridad, the emblematic sanctuary of the Cuban exile, located at 3609 South Miami Avenue, at 12:30 PM on Sunday, April 28th.
In 2010, more than 100,000 people marched down Miami’s famous 8th Street in a display of support with the Ladies in White after musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan convoked the demonstration. It is expected that numerous people will participate in the events with Soler this weekend to display their solidarity with these women who march Sunday after Sunday for the freedom of all political prisoners and the freedom of Cuba.
Berta Soler will also offer a press conference in the University of Miami on Saturday morning.
On Sunday the 28th at 9 AM, Soler will participate alongside Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of assassinated political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, in a public event in tribute to the martyr. It will be take place at Triangle Park, located on Okeechobee Road and Palm Avenue, in Hialeah, 33010, in front of the Zapata memorial statue.
The Lady in White has already been in different countries denouncing the repressive situation against the internal opposition. As soon as she arrived in Spain, Soler declared that her purpose was not to travel, but instead to condemn the Cuban dictatorship for the deaths of Laura Pollan, Oswaldo Paya, Harold Cepero and so many other martyrs.
As more public events with Soler in Miami are announced, this post will be updated.
Rosa Maria Paya will take part in a “Chat about Democratic Thought“, organized by the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), in Miami this Friday, April 12th. The event will be open to the public and will take place at 9:00 PM in the Parish Salon of the Immaculate Conception Church, located at 4497 West 1st Avenue, Hialeah, FL 33012.
According to MCL’s page (oswaldopaya.org), “it will be an encounter between Rosa Maria Paya with exiled organizations and all those who are interested to hear the testimony of real changes and a reaffirmation to say NO to fraudulent change which the Cuban regime is trying to depict”.
In addition, the young Cuban will let the public know about all she’s done in her trip abroad to obtain an international and independent investigation to find the truth about the death of her father, Oswaldo Paya and fellow youth activist Harold Cepero.
Welcome to Miami, Rosa Maria! Here in Miami we also support the independent investigation.
The image of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero lit up the New York night on Saturday April 6th, thanks to the creativity of exiled Cuban artist Geandy Pavon, as part of a heartfelt tribute to the deceased dissidents, members of the Christian Liberation Movement left dead last July after a mysterious ‘car accident’ which fellow dissidents and relatives denounce as an assassination organized by the regime’s State Security apparatus.
In the presence of Rosa Maria Paya, her brother Oswaldo Paya Acevedo (children of the dissident leader) and former political prisoner Regis Iglesias (representative of the Movement in exile), Pavon projected a photo of Oswaldo and Harold on the Cuban UN Missions building, located on Lexington Avenue.
The exposition is part of Project Nemesis which in the past has paid tribute to other activists disappeared by the Cuban regime, like Orlando Zapata Tamayo (projected in Washington DC, New York and Madrid) and Laura Pollan (projected in Ottawa, Canada).
“It was a gesture of solidarity and also a gesture which is completely in tune with what we are demanding”, said Rosa Maria Paya about the tribute, “we are asking for the truth so that, just like this light is lighting up the walls of the Cuban consulate, the truth illuminates the hearts of Cubans and so that we can all- together- go down the path of reconciliation to achieve the peace, happiness and democracy we are seeking”.
The reflection of an “L” for Liberty was also projected over the image of Paya and Ceper. This hand gesture was popularized by the Christian Liberation Movement to demand freedom for Cuba within the opposition.
Berta Soler announced from Havana this past Sunday, October 7th that the Ladies in White, the movement which she represents, have launched a Tribute Campaign in Honor of Laura Pollan’s Memory. This Sunday, October 14th, will be 1 year since Pollan passed away under mysterious circumstances.
The tributes, which will consist of public and peaceful activities such as vigils, Masses, and marches, according to an explanation Soler gave to Radio Republica“, began that same 7th of October when the group of women carried out their habitual walk towards their respective churches throughout the country.
Soler added that all Cubans are invited to participate in the tribute, whether they are Ladies in White or not. In fact, she even explained that during the Sunday activities more than 20 men participated in the march.
Meanwhile, on their web page, “Cuba Net”, published an announcement by the Ladies in White in exile with details of a Mass in honor of Laura for this upcoming Saturday, October 13th at 8 PM in the ‘Ermita de la Caridad’ Shrine, located on 3609 South Miami Avenue in Miami, Florida.
In the following video, courtest of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), we can see some Ladies in White congregated in Havana this past Sunday, October 7th, while Berta Soler offers some declarations on the first day of Tribute to Laura Pollan. Soler reiterates the non-violente essence of their struggle and affirms that “Laura Pollan Lives On!”: