I’ve admired Cuban dissident and practicing Catholic Oswaldo Paya for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that he decided to fight the good fight from within the iron shackled island instead of from the comfy land of exile. Paya was apparently silenced by being run off the road while driving in a remote section of Cuba.
Paya founded the Varela Project; named after now venerated Cuban priest Felix Varela. Varela lived through the Spanish occupation and was credited for teaching Cubans how to think for themselves; independently of the Spanish Crown.
The Varela Project collected signatures across the island in order to show the communist government a desire from the people for a new democratic and socially responsible constitution. The petition was turned into the government never to be heard of again……
I spoke to a recent arrival and was told the vast majority of Cubans never heard of Paya and even less of the Varela Project. Fewer still have heard of the Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez; whose blog is read by millions around the free world. It is sad to think that in 2012 an entire society, only 90 miles away from the Southernmost point of the United States, lives in total darkness. There is only one official radio station and television station and one newspaper.
The Arab Spring had one major denominator that had a direct causal effect on their victory over a totalitarian government: a vibrant internet community. Twitter and Facebook played a dominant part in allowing the dissident movement to communicate their plan amongst each other. Yoanni Sanchez hides in touristy internet bars in Havana while transmitting her most inner thoughts. The ten million or so Cubans left in Cuba are forced to fend by themselves while the marxist government controls every aspect of their lives.
Let’s pray that the heroic Cubans fighting from within find a small crevice to hold on to as they climb the wall of inevitability; a democratically elected government where freedom of speech and religion are in the forefront. Paya’s dream will be fulfilled and Yoanni will be able to sit on the malecon in the open and blog to her heart’s content!