Rosa María Payá testifies in the Committee on Foreign Relations of the US Senate.

The Cuban Rosa Maria Paya Acevedofounder of Cuba decidestestified this Wednesday before the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate.

Payá participated together with the Uyghur activist Jewher Ilham, coordinator of the Worker Rights Consortium; and the Iranian journalist Roya Hakakianin a public hearing focused on the topic “Women Leaders Confronting Authoritarianism”.

Payá denounced the existence of women political prisoners in Cubaamong which stood out the activists Sayli Navarro, Aimara Nieto or Lizandra Góngora Espinosa who declared in hunger strike in Guatao prisontogether with the sisters Angélica and María Cristina Garrido González.

There are more than 100 women in political prison and more than 1,000 political prisoners in Cuba, that’s more than in all of Latin America combined,” Payá said.

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He referred to the migration crisis suffered by the Cuban people, with thousands of people venturing dangerous journeys by sea and by land to reach the United States, in an attempt to escape poverty and the repression of communism.

He also recounted his experience as victim of repression in Cuba and explained how his brothers and mother were banished from Cuba.

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“If the treatment of women is indeed an indicator, I will tell you about the way my mother was treated when she had to leave Cuba because my father’s killers harassed my brothers and threatened me with death. And then, in 2017, when she returned to visit her husband’s grave, the political police arrested her and expelled her from her own country with the collaboration of American Airlines,” the activist said.

Rosa María is the daughter of the deceased opponent Oswaldo Payafounder of the Varela Project, which submitted to the Cuban government a request for changes in the legislation through a national referendum, backed by hundreds of signatures from his compatriots.

Oswaldo died in 2012, in a dubious traffic accident and after his death Rosa María focused on resuming her work as an activist in favor of the democracy in Cuba. The repression of the State against the Payá family was such that they ended up exiled and living in exile, based in Miami.

Rosa Maria Paya founded Cuba Decide, a citizen initiative whose goal is to change the country’s political system. His strategy for create a rule of law begins by generating the necessary social pressure to force the regime to respect the people, through a Binding plebiscite for system change.

This week another Cuban activist, Caroline Barreromet with the United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenwithin the framework of the United Nations General Assembly.

He participated in that meeting together with journalists and activists from China, Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh. Barrero dealt, like Payá, with issues related to freedom of expression and political activism in Cuba.


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