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    Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners

    Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio, EFE

    14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The presentation of the Oswaldo
    Payá “Freedom and Life” Prize has led to a diplomatic conflict, after
    the Cuban government vetoed the entry into the country of three of the
    guests: OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Former Mexican President
    Felipe Calderón, and Mariana Aylwin.

    Almagro, Calderón and Chilean delegate Mariana Aylwin were unable to
    travel to the Caribbean country on Tuesday to participate in the event
    called by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, chaired by
    Rosa Maria Payá, daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá,
    which the Cuban government Cuban has labeled a “provocation.”

    Around Payá’s house, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, a police
    operation deployed in the early hours of the day prevented activists
    from reaching the home. From Manila Park, near the house, State Security
    agents dressed in civilian clothes demanded documentation from any
    dissident or independent journalists who approached.

    Payá told this newspaper that her phone had been “out of service” in the
    afternoon although “in the morning it worked.” The ceremony was attended
    by seven activists who had spent the night in the house “plus another 20
    people who where able to reach it,” said the dissident. Among them was
    the head of the political-economic section of the US Embassy in Cuba,
    Dana Brown, as well as diplomatic representatives from Sweden and the
    Czech Republic.

    Payá said that the award ceremony had been surrounded by a lot of
    repression on the part of the regime, Cuban State Security and the
    Foreign Ministry.” She condemned the reprisals “suffered by civil
    society members who wanted to participate in the ceremony, resulting in
    many of them being arrested and others prevented from leaving their homes.”

    All of the leaders of the opposition groups on the island “were
    invited,” Payá told this newspaper. “There are some with whom we have
    lost communication over the last few days because of everything that is
    happening, and others who are not in the country and others who couldn’t
    get here.”

    “We hope that this aggression, this rudeness, will find a response and a
    reaction in all the governments belonging to the Organization of
    American States (OAS), in all the governments of our region and also in
    the European Union,” said Rosa María Payá.

    Luis Almargo tweeted: Our interest: To facilitate #Cuba’s approach to
    Interamerican values/principles and to expand the country’s achievements
    in science, health and education.

    The Chilean and Mexican Chancelleries regretted the decision of
    Cuba, and Chile announced that it will call its ambassador on the island
    for consultations.

    Meanwhile, the only official response from Cuba has come from the
    Cuban embassy in Chile, which issued a communication referring to the
    matter as “a grave international provocation against the Cuban
    government,” with the aim of “generating internal instability” and
    affecting Cuba’s diplomatic relations with other countries.

    According to this note, the act was created “by an illegal anti-Cuban
    group that acts against constitutional order and that arouses the
    repudiation of the people, with the collusion and financing of
    politicians and foreign institutions.”

    The ceremony finally took place without the presence of the
    international guests. “The chairs will remain empty” until the awardees
    “can land in Havana” to pick them up in person, assured Rosa María
    Payá. Other Cuban guests were prevented from leaving their homes or
    arrested on the road.

    Independent journalists Henry Constantin Ferreiro and Sol García Basulto
    were detained in the airport of Camagüey at the moment that they tried
    to board a flight towards the capital.

    Constantín Ferreiro is vice-president of the Inter-American Press
    Association for Cuba and remains in custody without his parents being
    able to see him or provide him with personal hygiene supplies, according
    to his father.

    Havana’s decision not to authorize the arrival of the head of the OAS
    was known after a night of uncertainty in which it was not clear whether
    Almagro had traveled to the Cuban capital, where he initially planned to
    fly from Paris, where he had participated in institutional activities
    yesterday. Rosa María Paya today called on the OAS to support the right
    of the Cuban people to decide on their destiny.

    “To the point that Cuba is democratizing, all democracies in Latin
    America will also gain stability,” said the opposition leader, who hoped
    that “today is the beginning of an OAS commitment to the cause of rights
    and freedom in Cuba.”

    She pointed out that they do not expect the OAS to “speak out against
    anyone,” but instead to put itself “on the side of all Cuban citizens in
    their right to begin a transition process.”

    Source: Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio,
    EFE – Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/oswaldo-paya-award-ceremony-is-absent-the-winners-14ymedio-efe/

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