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Oswaldo Paya, Patriot … Martyr?

One of Cuba’s leading dissidents was killed in a car crash this week. The incident is still under investigation. Most folks, present company included, do not believe a word that Cuban regime officials have said about the event. Time will tell if it was truly an accident, the government position, or if there were intervening causes that led to fateful event. Some experts argue it is a pursuit immobilization technique or PIT maneuver gone bad.

Cuban Catholics lost two leaders this year. Auxiliary Bishop Agustín Roman (left) died on April 11, 2012 in Miami and, the leader of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Paya (right), who died on July 22, 2012 under suspicious circumstances in Cuba.

Oswaldo Paya was an interesting fellow. A devout Catholic, husband, father, and advocate for reform in Cuba, he believed that the Communist system could be changed from within. His position was not a popular one with folks in the Cuban-American community or with a majority of the other opposition leaders on the island. However, people turned out in droves at his funeral and he was eulogized by exile community leaders. More than fifty people were also arrested during Paya’s funeral services this week.

Regardless of whether you agreed with his political stance or not, he should be remembered as someone who, in his own way, tried to advance the cause of freedom. He was driven by his faith. That says a lot about a person. All good.    Ironically, he also seemed to be alone in his quest for not even Cuba’s highest ranking Catholic Church official supported Paya’s mission. Cardinal Jaime Ortega’s time has come and gone, but that subject is for another day and post.

There is nothing good whatsoever about Cuba’s current government. Never has been, never will be. It has been a cancer on Cuba since it violently took control in 1959. Changing it from within, is a quixotic enterprise. The Communist Party of Cuba has left behind abject poverty, moral waste, and death. Cuban patriots such as Paya, and there are many, continue to die because the regime — directly or indirectly — wants it so.

Paya’s death is a reminder that bad things happen good people. And is also a reminder of how opponents to the regime rally behind their own when the chips are down, no matter how much they may disagree with a particular viewpoint or approach. This why the future of Cuba is a bright one. There will be a struggle during the transition, but, in the end, freedom will win. It always does.

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