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Activists mark Human Rights Day in solidarity with Cuban dissidents at Miami’s Freedom Tower

From Miami, Rosa Maria Paya shows solidarity with dissidents in Havana
From Miami, Rosa Maria Paya shows solidarity with dissidents in Havana

MIAMI – A group of activists held a demonstration on Thursday under the shadow of Miami’s Freedom Tower. The historic landmark is where the former U.S. assistance center for Cuban refugees was after Fidel Castro began to implement his Soviet version of Communism in the 1960s.

Rosa Maria Paya is leading the demonstration in solidarity with a group of activists in Havana. The daughter of Oswaldo Paya, who was an engineer and Catholic dissident, believes the Cuban government caused his death in a 2012 car crash after decades of harassment.

For years, Rosa Maria Paya has been demonstrating against the repression of a system that she says needs to come to an end in Cuba. She is the director of Cuba Decide, a pro-democracy movement in support of human rights.

“It’s a call for solidarity and for action,” she said about the demonstration to raise awareness about the plight of Cuban dissidents who are active in the San Isidro Movement in Havana and to mark the United Nations’ celebration of Human Rights Day.

The movement’s members want the government to free Rapper Denis Solis who is in prison for criminal contempt after talking back to a police officer. The movement’s supporters have also been protesting the detention of five of the movement’s members who were holding a hunger strike and nine others who were at the movement’s headquarters in Havana.

Cuban artists, writers and supporters of the San Isidro Movement protest outside of a Cuban government building on Nov. 27, in Havana. (Foto AP/Ismael Francisco) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Cuban authorities said the intervention at the San Isidro movement’s headquarters in Havana was related to coronavirus safety violations. The movement’s protest on social media has garnered international attention.

Raul Castro’s protege, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, has branded the San Isidro Movement, named after a district in Old Havana, as a ploy of “U.S. imperialists” who want to cause unrest.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Cuban-American, met with Rosa Maria Paya on Thursday to present the city’s declaration that Human Rights Day is also Anti-Communism Day in Miami.

“We stand firmly against the enemy of those freedoms —Communism,” Suarez wrote on Twitter.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.