The rollback of democracy is deeply concerning, but the story of Oswaldo Payá is about one man’s effort to cause change in the other direction—to establish rights and democratic governance where there is now a dictatorship, says The Washington Post’s David E. Hoffman, author of Give Me Liberty, The true story of Oswaldo Paya and his daring quest for a free Cuba.
Since 1902, there have been waves of Cubans who struggled to establish democracy, clean government, independence, and prosperity, he reminds The Havana Times:
They tried but didn’t always succeed. There were a series of rebellions – remember the Minoristas and the Veterans and Patriots? …. By 1940, Cubans had come together to write a new Constitution that was the most democratic (and long-winded) in their history. It was followed by 12 years of constitutional transfer of power, although the scourge of corruption lingered, some semblance of democracy existed.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is getting ready to release a much anticipated, decade-long investigation into the death of Paya, killed in a car crash in 2012 that family members and activists suspect was provoked by Cuban state security agents, reports suggest:
The U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, Frank Mora, told The Miami Herald the commission, an autonomous branch of the regional organization, is about to publish the report as part of renewed efforts to address the human-rights situation on the island.
“The work done by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is important; they are going to release the report on the killing of Oswaldo Paya,” Mora said.
Do you know that the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written with the help of prominent Cubans, including the jurist Gustavo Gutiérrez, whose thinking about freedom and democracy informed the drafting process? Hoffman adds. The word “universal” meant that it would apply to all, and we should not forget that in today’s world. No country can simply check out.