From his seat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., honored the eighth anniversary of the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá this week.
Rubio threw his support behind U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s, R-Tex., proposal to change the name of the street outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington to “Oswaldo Payá Way.” Other supporters of the bill include U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Bob Menendez, D-NJ.
“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.
“Oswaldo Payá paid the ultimate price for having the courage to defend democratic principles and speak out against the communist dictatorship in his beloved Cuba,” Rubio said. “As we commemorate the eighth anniversary of Payá’s assassination, I’m proud to join my colleagues and reintroduce this important bill. By renaming the street in front of the Cuban embassy in our nation’s capital as ‘Oswaldo Payá Way,’ Americans will honor this martyr’s life, and also remind those who seek freedom and oppose democratic values in Washington, D.C. of Payá’s everlasting legacy.”
“Oswaldo Payá dedicated his life to fighting for the Cuban people against the evils of communism that have for too long stood in the way of freedom and democracy in Cuba,” Cruz said. “On many occasions, I have had the honor of meeting with Oswaldo Payá’s daughter, Rosa María Payá. As an outspoken dissident, Rosa María – like so many freedom-loving Cubans – continues to live out her father’s legacy of courage and conviction by unapologetically denouncing communism and calling for freedom to be restored in Cuba. I’m proud to honor Oswaldo Payá today by reintroducing this bipartisan measure and will continue to stand strong with the people of Cuba as they continue to combat the violence and oppression under the Communist rule of Raúl Castro and his successor, Miguel Díaz Canel.”
“As we continue demanding answers and justice for Oswaldo Payá’s tragic and suspicious murder, I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring the memory of one of the most visible faces and leaders of Cuba’s peaceful opposition movement,” Menendez said. “As I told Oswaldo Payá’s daughter, Rosa Maria, I am committed to using the power of my voice and office to ensure the world does not forget the legacy of her father. His dream will one day become a reality and there will be freedom and democracy in Cuba. Until then, we will continue to honor and support the courageous dissidents fighting the good fight for real, honest, and political change free from the yoke of the Cuban regime.”
“Oswaldo Payá was a courageous voice for justice and democracy in Cuba, and his suspicious death was a tragic blow to progress on the island. I have long called for an impartial investigation into his death and this resolution honors his life and legacy,” Durbin said. “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 bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.