or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Letter to Emilio Álvarez Icaza, Executive Secretary of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - Urge Inter-American Commission On Human Rights To Investigate Death Of Cuban Activist Oswaldo Payá

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined a bipartisan group of senators in urging the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the death of Cuban democracy leader Oswaldo Payá in 2012. The commission is an arm of the Organization of American States.

In a letter delivered this afternoon to the commission's executive secretary, Emilio Álvarez Icaza, Rubio and Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Warner (D-VA), outline the circumstances surrounding Payá's death and call for an investigation.

"We write to request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights undertake an investigation into the troubling death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá, who, along with youth activist Harold Cepero, was killed in a suspicious automobile accident on July 22, 2012, in Bayamo, Cuba," the senators write. "Recent published interviews with the Spanish driver of the vehicle, Ángel Carromero, raise deeply troubling concerns that Payá's car was deliberately targeted by Cuban government officials well known for their harassment of Payá."

Emilio Álvarez Icaza
Executive Secretary
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Organization of American States
1889 F Street NW
Washington, D.C., 20006
United States of America

Dear Secretary Icaza:

We write to request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights undertake an investigation into the troubling death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá, who, along with youth activist Harold Cepero, was killed in a suspicious automobile accident on July 22, 2012, in Bayamo, Cuba. Recent published interviews (included) with the Spanish driver of the vehicle, Ángel Carromero, raise deeply troubling concerns that Payá's car was deliberately targeted by Cuban government officials well known for their harassment of Payá.

In 2002, Payá pioneered the Varela Project, a petition drive that peacefully sought greater political freedom on the island of Cuba. At the time, the Constitution of Cuba guaranteed the right to a national referendum on any proposal that achieved 10,000 or more signatures from Cuban citizens eligible to vote. In May 2002, the Varela Project delivered 11,020 signatures from such eligible citizens to the Cuban National Assembly, calling for an end to four decades of one-party rule. The Cuban government cynically responded by beginning its own referendum that made Cuba's socialist system "irrevocable," even after an additional 14,000 signatures were added to the Varela Project petition. Payá and his colleagues faced sustained harassment, and as many as 25 of its leaders were jailed.

Payá's nonviolent effort to seek political change in Cuba was respected around the world. He received the Sakharov Price for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 2002 and the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in 2003 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by former Czech President Václav Havel in 2005. In July 2012, the United States Senate unanimously approved a resolution honoring the life and legacy of Oswaldo Payá. That resolution included a call for the "Government of Cuba to allow an impartial, third-party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardin."

On March 5, 2013, the Washington Post published an interview with Ángel Carromero, vice general secretary of Spain's ruling Popular Party, indicated that the car carrying Mr. Payá was rammed from behind by a vehicle with government license plates. He said,

"…And then another, newer car appeared and began to harass us, getting very close. Oswaldo and Harold told me it must be from "la Comunista" because it had a blue license plate, which they said is what the government uses. Every so often I looked at it through the rearview mirror and could see both occupants of the car staring at us aggressively. I was afraid, but Oswaldo told me not to stop if they did not signal or force us to do so. I drove carefully, giving them no reason to stop us. The last time I looked in the mirror, I realized that the car had gotten too close -- and suddenly I felt a thunderous impact from behind….

The next time I awakened, I was on a stretcher, being carried into a hospital room. The first person who talked to me was a uniformed officer of the Ministry of the Interior. I told her a car had hit our vehicle from behind, causing me to lose control. She took notes and, at the end, gave me my statement to sign. The hospital, which was civilian, had suddenly been militarized….

They began to videotape me all the time, and they kept doing so until the last day I was jailed in Cuba. When they questioned me about what happened, I repeated what I told the officer who originally took my statement. They got angry. They warned me that I was their enemy, and that I was very young to lose my life. One of them told me that what I had told them had not happened and that I should be careful, that depending on what I said things could go very well or very badly for me. …

Then came a gentleman who identified himself as a government expert and who gave me the official version of what had happened. If I went along with it, nothing would happen to me. At the time I was heavily drugged, and it was hard for me to understand the details of the supposed accident that they were telling me to repeat. They gave me another statement to sign -- one that in no way resembled the truth. It mentioned gravel, an embankment, a tree -- I did not remember any of these things….

The most important thing for me is that the Payá family always has defended my innocence, when they are the most injured by this tragedy. That's why, when I met Rosa Maria [Payá's daughter] this week, I could not hide the truth any more."

On March 13, 2013, Payá's daughter, Rosa Maria Payá, appeared before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. She presented an appeal signed by 46 activists and political leaders from around the world, urging the United Nations to launch an independent international investigation into her father's death. She was interrupted by the Cuban representative, who accused her of being a "mercenary who has dared to come to this room." Payá and his legacy deserve better than this.

Oswaldo Payá was a brave man trying to peacefully advocate for greater political freedom for his fellow Cuban brothers and sisters. It increasingly looks like he paid for that effort with his life. His memory and his family deserve an honest and independent accounting of what happened. We urge the Commission to undertake this investigation without delay.

We thank you for your consideration and stand ready to work with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Marco Rubio
United States Senator

Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator

Mark Kirk
United States Senator

John McCain
United States Senator

Bill Nelson
United States Senator

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

Mark Warner
United States Senator


Source:
Back to top