U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan legislation (S. 539) that would rename the street in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., as "Oswaldo Payá Way," in honor of Cuba's late and celebrated dissident leader. The bill serves as a tribute to those who have contested the cruelty and oppression of the Castro regime, and comes after Cuba's recent attempt to stifle efforts to honor those who stand up for human rights across the globe.
"In 2012, Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá was murdered by the Castro regime, which attempted to disguise the assassination as a car crash," said Rubio. "For decades the Castros have systematically exterminated, imprisoned, and brutalized their political opponents, and as Cuban artist El Sexto testified to Congress just last month, "repression has increased' since President Obama's one-sided concessions to the communist dictators. Renaming the street in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., "Oswaldo Payá Way' would permanently remind Castro and his murderous thugs of the innocent blood they have spilled, and send a strong message that dissidents' calls for freedom can never be fully silenced or erased."
"The Cuban Embassy stands as a testament to the prior Administration's relentless capitulation to oppressive dictatorships across the globe. Though Fidel Castro has died, his repressive legacy has not followed him to the grave," said Cruz. "Raúl is not a "different' Castro; he shared Fidel's tyrannical reign, brutally imprisoning and torturing the people of Cuba. It is my hope and belief that President Trump's Administration will operate from a posture of strength to reassure those fighting for freedom in Cuba that America stands with them. I commend Rosa María Payá for her brave efforts to honor her father's fight for freedom by bestowing an award in his name. The Castro regime's cowardly actions to stifle the first awards ceremony only shines a brighter light on Oswaldo Payá's legacy and serves as an example for younger generations who seek change among brutal dictatorships."
"Although former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has died, the tyrannical regime he built is still very much alive," said Executive Director of Victims of Communism Marion Smith. "For fifty-eight long years, Cubans have daily suffered from human rights violations committed by the Castro regime. Cuba's dissidents have endured long enough. Renaming the Cuban Embassy's D.C. address as the Oswaldo Payá Way is an expression of solidarity, a visible reminder that the U.S. supports the hopes and aspirations of Cuban dissidents. Today, we are putting the Castro regime on notice: their cruelty and barbarism will not be forgotten."
Rosa María Payá, Oswaldo's daughter, is the founder of Cuba Decides, a citizen's initiative promoting a peaceful transition to democracy within the communist country. To further her group's platform, Rosa María founded the Oswaldo Payá Liberty and Life Award to honor her father's legacy of fighting for democracy and human rights. The first recipients of the award were recently given to Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro, and the late Chilean President Patricio Aylwin. However, the day before last week's scheduled ceremony, the Castro regime denied visas to both Almagro and Aylwin's daughter -- Chilean parliamentarian and former minister of foreign affairs Mariana Aylwin -- who had planned to accept the award on her late father's behalf. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón was also denied entry to attend the ceremony, confirming that in spite of Cuba's symbolic gestures toward a freer society, it has in fact done nothing meaningful to offer personal liberty or basic human rights to its suffering citizens.