The bipartisan group consisting of Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R- TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to speed up the progress of the investigation into the murder of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. The Payá family and the lawyers of the R.F. Kennedy, filed the lawsuit with the IACHR more than 9 years ago now and have been updating the Commission with all the evidence discovered during this time. Below, we share the official communication from the office of Senator Dick Durbin and the full text of the letter.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With this summer marking the 11th year since the death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá, US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) , Tim Kaine (D-VA) , Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Warner (D-VA), urged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide an update on this case without further delay. In 2013, Durbin sent his first letter to the Commission’s former Executive Secretary, Emilio Icaza, urging the Commission to investigate Payá’s suspicious death. Durbin continued to push for answers with letters asking for more information sent in 2014, 2016 and 2021, all of which were sent to the Commission today in addition to Durbin’s new letter.
Payá’s work, the threats made against him, and the key circumstances of the day he died are well documented. The Commission has shown from previous investigations, such as the 2019 High-Level Commission on Nicaragua, that it can carry out its critical work even if the state in question does not cooperate. Investigations like the one into Payá’s death bring to light not only past human rights issues, but also help deter further acts of repression,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Tania Reneaum Panszi, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission. of Human Rights. Human rights.
“Members of the Organization of American States and the international community expect protection, accountability, and justice from the Commission. Therefore, please provide us with an update without delay on the ongoing and future efforts in the Payá case,” the Senators continued.
In 2002, Payá started the Varela Project which sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a peaceful petition campaign and a referendum process as allowed by the Cuban constitution. The Cuban government not only rejected the historic effort and brazenly changed the constitutional provision that allowed such a public avenue for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement.
In July 2012, this pursuit culminated when his car was rear-ended by a following government vehicle, killing Payá and fellow traveler and youth activist Harold Cepero. The Cuban government has yet to provide a credible explanation, accountability, or justice for this tragic incident.
Durbin has long sought justice for Payá’s death. Last June, Durbin joined Senators Cruz, Rubio, Cardin and Rick Scott (R-FL) to introduce bipartisan legislation to rename the street in front of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. “Oswaldo Payá Way”, to denounce the oppression of the Cuban regime. , and highlight the cause of Oswaldo Payá. In 2012, he joined Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Menendez, Rubio, Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and John Kerry (D-MA) in passing a resolution honoring the Payá’s work and asking “the Government of Cuba to allow an impartial investigation by third parties into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.”
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