Reps push for bill to rename Cuban embassy street after democracy leader (includes video story)

A piece of legislation introduced by a group of bipartisan senators in June last year aims to rename the street in front of the Cuban embassy in the nation’s capital after Oswaldo Payá, a Cuban civic leader and democracy activist who was killed in a car crash orchestrated by the Cuban government in 2012. 

According to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, this could send a powerful message to the Cuban dictatorship and the world.

“Members of the Cuban government who deal with the embassy would have to acknowledge that Payá existed and that this hero who was wrongfully murdered was real,” Cruz told the plenary session of the U.S. Senate last week. “They would have to say his name.”

At a young age, Payá manifested his opposition to the Castro dictatorship. Despite the constant intimidation and harassment from the Cuban regime, Payá led the Varela Project, a referendum that promoted democracy and freedom of speech and religion. He collected approximately 25,000 signatures from Cuban citizens who wanted a change of government on the island.

“The world has been exposed to the Cuban Communist propaganda but not so to the Cuban reality”, said Payá’s daughter, Rosa Maria. “This is very important because it’s a sign to stop the impunity of the Cuban regime. We’re talking right now and there are more than one thousand political prisoners in Cuba. There have been more than 3000 public protests in the last year and the only reaction of the Cuban regime has been violence, repression and jail.”

In a letter sent to the Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, senators urged the release of the details of Paya’s murder. After almost ten years, the Payá family along with lawyers from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center filed a lawsuit, and now they hope to finally get an answer. 

Claudia Morales is a junior FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Communications/Broadcasting. She obtained an associates degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Miami Dade College. She served as a photographer for The Reporter, the student newspaper at Miami Dade College. She also studied abroad in France and Italy, where she acquired knowledge about globalized media.