Family, Freedom and the Oswaldo Payá Prize
Family, Freedom and the Oswaldo Payá Prize
BORIS GONZÁLEZ ARENAS | La Habana | 26 de Febrero de 2017 – 12:04 CET.
The home of Oswaldo Payá, the Cuban political leader who was killed,
along with Harold Cepero, under murky circumstances in 2012, has a small
living room. It is a space consonant with a house of modest dimensions,
for a family whose social and political life, under normal conditions,
is lived through the appropriate institutions, with no other aspiration
than its domestic harmony and its children growing up healthy. It was
really not large enough to constitute an appropriate site for the
bestowal, on Wednesday 22 February, 2017, of the Oswaldo Payá Freedom
and Life Prize, awarded to Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS,
and Patricio Aylwin, the former Chilean president who was given it
Aylwin’s honor was to be collected by his daughter Mariana. But the
Cuban government blocked both her and Almagro from entering the country,
in addition to Mexican president Felipe Calderón, who was nominated and
had accepted the invitation to attend the ceremony along with other
The Government also foiled the arrival of an unverified number of people
from Cuba’s civil society, either because they were stopped directly,
like Henry Constantín, or with the paramilitary cordon set up around the
house in the Havana municipality of Cerro, like Diario Las Americas
journalist Iván García.
The humble room still proved insufficient to accommodate the members of
civil society, diplomatic corps, and foreign media who were able to get
there. The chairs initially set up were stowed, and throughout the event
the attendees had to stand. It was a vivid example of how, thanks to
Castroism, private spaces have to assume the functions of public ones,
among other uses not corresponding to them.
The remarks by Rosa María Payá on the need for freedom for Cuba, a
reading by Saylí Navarro of a letter written for the occasion by Ofelia
Acevedo, Oswaldo’s widow; the words of Ivan Hernández Carrillo, the only
nominee who made it to the event, and a taped speech sent by Felipe
Calderón to the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, dramatically
demonstrated the competence and political maturity of the organizers.
Rosa Maria’s words, stating that the prizes would not be sent to their
recipients, but rather stored and given to them, in that same room, in a
free Cuba, expresses an aspiration instilling that small space with a
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro deserves praise for having accepted
the award and the invitation to travel to Cuba to receive it, in Cerro,
in a modest room, on an old and rickety chair.
The OAS was instrumental in distancing other Latin American governments
from Fidel Castro during the most lethal stage of his political
machinations, when he subjected the country to a succession of vicious
schemes. The estrangement occurred after the democratic government of
Rómulo Betancourt severed relations with Cuba and endorsed its
condemnation by the OAS due to the Communist nature of Fidel Castro’s
government and its role in the subversion of the Venezuelan government.
It had taken a similar stance against Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, the
tyrant of the Dominican Republic, and shortly thereafter, the same
commitment to democratic standards led it to break off diplomatic
relations with the Haitian government, then headed by François Duvalier.
For Fidel Castro to be treated like just another Caribbean despot was an
affront that he was unwilling to tolerate, sparking hostility towards
the OAS that remains today.
The fact that the Payá family’s home was the venue for an event of this
nature honors the Cuban family. If in recent years there has been a bit
of an economic upturn for families, it has been due to, precisely, the
conversion of domestic spaces into facilities for private business and
industry, though the Castro regime has offered nothing but obstacles and
impediments to this growth.
The success of the event organized by the Latin American Youth Network
for Democracy evidences that, together with its management capacities,
and economic initiative, it is in Cuban families that there endures,
with astonishing vitality, our people’s yearning for and commitment to
its political freedom.
Source: Family, Freedom and the Oswaldo Payá Prize | Diario de Cuba –