Payá: with P for a President

It’s Monday, July 23. Oswaldo Paya Sardinas has been dead since yesterday. Agents of the government had promised that this would happen and had even carried out several attacks against him, which he survived without actually noticing. By and large, it seems that there won’t be a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Cuba unless Fidel Castro gets the award first.

60-year-old Paya, who managed to collect over 25,000 signatures with the aim of recreating the Cuban nation, died in an alleged car accident in a province far away from his home. At the moment of his death, he was in a company of strangers – Europeans with political ambitions, who have now become anything but witnesses to the truth. Alas, our hero had to die without the protection of his brave and devout family. Whatever the ongoing investigations and future trials bring, his death must be seen as the State Security’s declaration of war against Cuban dissidents.

The hearse with Paya’s deceased body travelled from the east province of Oriente to the capital of Havana without proper preservation measures being taken. When it reached the temple of “El Salvador del Mundo”, it had been already awaited by a spontaneously formed crowd of opposition members featuring leaders of the opposition as well as anonymous agents mixed with the political police, plus the accredited international media. As the coffin passed, an uncontrollable applause broke out by tacit consensus which nobody would have expected just minutes before the hearse had come. An applause which, for the moment, settled all quarrels and dispelled all political bigotry, allowing everybody show the best in them in memory of Paya, a visionary who dreamt of a promised land undergoing a transition and who, like all good messiahs, didn’t live to see it.

As people kept shouting “FREEDOM!”, the priest grew nervous and finally made a gesture to the wife of the deceased, imploring her to appease the crowd. Ofelia Acevedo therefore asked the crowd to calm down in the name of Oswaldo. Yet, her husband might have preferred that the concert of voices and hands would never stop, that there would be no end to the intimate expression of support that had turned into a public explosion of sympathy. Perhaps he would wish that the spontaneous voting between sadness and indignation would never cease. Everything was perfectly ready for the crowd to leave the mass of resignation, seize the sacred body of the deceased and storm into Plaza de la Revolucion Square. The Christian Liberation Movement would never expect that anything like this would happen – yet, this posthumous ceremony simply had to go beyond the incense and rosaries, so that the death of Paya would not be reduced to the misleading statistics of the traffic police.

Meanwhile, mercenaries ordered by the government to stigmatize the deceased – the official bloggers, were humiliating the whole family of the illustrious Paya in digital networks. The world should never forget the shameful conduct of these servants of the government who committed the blasphemy. In particular, it should bear in mind the shame that has been brought on the entire Cuban nation, which has lost all its humanity under the rule of an ideology of hypocrites and idiots.

On Tuesday 24 at dawn, after a vigil kept in the open church in the early morning hours, Cardinal Jaime Ortega officiated a mass, speaking like a true demagogue: “The desire to participate in the political life of the nation is a right and a duty of any lay Christian.” Ortega even dared to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who, during his visit to Havana, found enough time to greet tyrannical atheists but failed to remember a lay democrat named Oswaldo Paya: “No one should be prevented from joining this exciting cause due to denial of fundamental freedoms”.

At the end of the funeral liturgy, the word was passed to Rosa Maria Paya, who spoke with more courage than any of the erudite role players, Catholic or Communist, or both, has shown over the last half of a century. Without hatred, she accused those secretly responsible for her father’s death and made it clear that the rest of the family was still in danger of death. When she finished, her mother Ofelia Acevedo called for the right to peacefully fight for freedom in Cuba, without running the risk of losing the life when promoting the cause. The present bishops looked like deaf puppets, incapable of showing any solidarity with the family after the ceremony finished.

Only several minutes later and just a few meters away, rapid response teams and the police beat up dozens of the participants in the funeral for having tried to accompany the coffin on foot to the cemetery, making them unable to continue and even preventing them from getting back to their homes. The people who were detained in these violent arrests without charge remained in jail until the next day. The police action was then praised in the communist newspaper, Granma (the only official newspaper in the country).

I don’t want to finish my article with talking about the standing ovation given as a farewell at the cemetery. Instead, I would like to tell you about the horror looming over the surviving witnesses of the alleged car crash in which Paya and his young collaborator Harold Cepero found their deaths. The two Europeans with political ambitions, Angel Carromero and Jens Aron Modig, have become life victims of their own truthfulness. Whatever they say now about the mysterious accident, perhaps out of fear, their testimonies will reek of scam, cheating and torture. Neither of the two has behaved like a free man, a Democrat or a Christian. They have even failed to offer their condolences to the Paya-Acevedo family. Through their testimonies, they have become accomplices, victims to self-incrimination strongly resembling the Soviet purges of Joseph Stalin. It’s just enough to smell something fishy in the tragedy that annihilated the potential candidate for the first president of a new Cuba, a dream which has never come true. The country and its future is now enveloped in a halo of deceit.

Olpl2

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana and graduated from the University of Havana with a degree biochemistry. Around 2000 he began work as a free-lance writer, photographer and dissident blogger.