Rosa María Payá

* 1989  

  • “In our family we were fortunate that we did not have to keep the rule of double morals, as the majority of Cubans were forced to. I was lucky that our parents taught us to live in harmony with what we believed. And that is really hard in a totalitarian country. When we were older, my friends from secondary school and university started noticing it, and they told almost with admiration or even with a certain amount of jealousy: ‘Lucky you, you can say in public what you hear at home. We’re not allowed to say what we hear at home, nor what we think.’ They were afraid of the consequences, that they’d be expelled from university, that their parents would lost their jobs. I remember how Dad told us: ‘You can say whatever you want. We’ll cope with it somehow.’ My friends weren’t that fortunate. They would come home and their parents would tell them: ‘Please, whatever you do, don’t say what you think. Don’t criticise the regime, so we don’t get into trouble.’ I was fortunate to have been allowed to grow up free in a country that is one big prison.”

  • “We began seeing the differences in two aspects especially. On the one hand it was connected to how people behave in public. When I am in Cuba, I realise every day - I had noticed it before as well, when my dad was alive or when I was studying at university - that many Cubans think the same way as us. Most Cubans. I don’t think I know anyone who was not convinced that things in Cuba have to change, that there should be freedom. Actually, I don’t know anyone who agrees with the government. But most people don’t dare to say anything because they’re afraid they might meet the same fate as my family.”

  • “I am a Catholic, like my whole family. Faith was something utterly essential for my father. It was a source of strength in his everyday life in a hostile environment. I admire his faith. I confess that I’m much weaker than he was. Nonetheless, faith is of crucial importance to me as well. It gives me strength, so I don’t succumb to despair. I think that their Christian upbringing also had a key impact on my parents’ way of life and for shaping the character of us children. My own character. We had the opportunity to find within the Church - which is also oppressed by the regime, which attempts to manipulate it - a different, independent space. We had the opportunity to take shelter in that space and to be raised in freedom of thought, in the spirit of the Gospels, which say that the truth will set you free. That was a key influence in the formation of my attitudes and stances as an adult.”

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    Miami, 18.05.2017

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We lived freely in one big prison

Rosa María Payá / Maimi / 2017
Rosa María Payá / Maimi / 2017
zdroj: Post Bellum

Rosa María Payá was born in 1989 in Havana, Cuba. She comes from a devout Catholic family. Her father Oswaldo Payá was one of the most prominent dissidents in Cuba. He fought to establish democracy in the country by non-violent means. Václav Havel and other people nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012 Oswaldo Payá died during a car accident under as-yet unexplained circumstances. Rosa María is convinced that he was murdered. Even as a student she became active in the dissent. She worked for the Christian Liberation Movement, she coordinated Cuba Decide, a project that promoted a nationwide referendum for free elections. She has spoken of oppression in Cuba at many international forums, including the UN Human Rights Council. Her mother and brothers received political asylum in the USA, Rosa María has retained her Cuban citizenship but lives mostly abroad.