U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., honored the ninth anniversary of the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá this week by backing a bill from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to change the name of the street outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington to “Oswaldo Payá Way.”
Cruz and Rubio worked on this bill last year. Other supporters of the bill include U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Ben Cardin, D-Mary.
“An early critic of the Castro regime, Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, or MLC for its initials in Spanish) in 1988 to promote democracy and civil liberties through non-violent resistance. A decade later, the organization established the Varela Project, which sought to advance democratic reforms by exploiting a provision in the Cuban Constitution allowing the public to introduce legislation,” Rubio’s office noted.
Payá died in a suspicious car accident in 2012. Critics of the Cuban regime have said the government killed Payá though the regime denies it.
“The life and legacy of the leader of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Payá, have left an everlasting mark on the lives of many Cubans,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “His tireless advocacy in defense of Cuba’s democratic future, one in which the island is truly free from the evils of tyranny, was not in vain. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in reintroducing this legislation to honor the work of one of Cuba’s most important civil society leaders.”
Scott praised Payá as a “hero who dedicated his life to fighting for freedom and democracy in Cuba” on Tuesday.
“Payá’s legacy lives on through the unrelenting strength of his daughter, Rosa Maria Payá, and all those courageously working to liberate Cuba from Castro-Communism. We will not forget the crimes and human rights violations of the Castro regime against its people – crimes that continue today. The United States will always remain on the side of freedom and democracy and we will not stop working for a new day of freedom in Cuba,” Scott said.
“Today, I had the honor to meet again with Oswaldo Payá’s daughter, Rosa Maria Payá, who continues her father’s legacy by denouncing the evils of communism and fighting for the people of Cuba,” Cruz said. “As an outspoken dissident, Oswaldo Payá courageously fought for freedom and democracy in the face of the Castro regime’s brutal human rights abuses. The regime desperately wants the world to forget Oswaldo Payá. That is why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill once again to rename the street outside the Cuban embassy after Payá and send a powerful message to the Cuban regime that we stand with freedom fighters who work to liberate the people of Cuba as they stand up to ruthless oppression.”
“Oswaldo Payá was a courageous voice for justice and democracy in Cuba, and his death was a tragic blow to the dissident movement on the island,” Durbin said. “I have long called for a transparent and independent investigation into his suspicious death. I continue to stand with the Payá family and the people of Cuba in demanding peaceful democratic reform and the release of all political prisoners.”
“The name of Oswaldo Payá, who died while peacefully working to promote constitutional democracy in Cuba, will never be forgotten in Cuba,” Cardin said. “This measure would ensure that Americans also would be reminded of Payá’s courage and the sacrifice he made for the people of Cuba.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Monday. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.