Editorial: Rosa María Payá and Castroism's fear
In Havana, Rosa María Payá, President of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, was going to bestow the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and Life Award on Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, and to honor late Chilean President Patricio Aylwin, represented by his daughter, former minister and ex-representative Mariana Aylwin.
In 2002 Oswaldo Payá submitted 11,020 signatures to the Cuban National Assembly and, in 2004, 14,000 additional ones demanding the freedom of association, the freedom of speech and press, free elections, and amnesty for political prisoners. Securing the support of such a large number of people under circumstances like Cuba's entailed a complex mobilization effort headed up by the leader of the Varela Project, the largest undertaken by the democratic opposition in Cuba.
The response of the National Assembly to this request resulted in a modification of the Constitution, with socialism being described as "irreversible" in Cuba.
Oswaldo Payá perished on July 22, 2012 on a road near Bayamo. His family reported that the car he was traveling in was hit by a State Security vehicle. The circumstances of his death remain unclear. The regime has never allowed an investigation by international experts, and sought to close the case with a farcical trial.
Thereafter, while upholding her father and his legacy, Rosa María Payá has continued her struggle for the democratization of Cuba, framing it in a continental context. This has helped to overturn the tendency to approach Cuba separately, as unique exception, in the region. Payá has shown solidarity with the causes and challenges facing youth and activists from other countries, obtaining the same in return.
The result of this has been a wave of condemnations and expressions of solidarity from figures such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former presidents Sebastián Piñera (Chile) and Felipe Calderón (Mexico), to the obstacles placed by the regime against the awards ceremony, to be held in Havana. Once again Castroism has shown that it is, irreversibly, a dictatorship. Denying entry to the Secretary General of the OAS and other international invitees merely evidences its desperation and fear.