Leader of the Christian Democratic Movement in Cuba, Oswaldo Paya has died in a car crash on Sunday. He was travelling in the eastern Cuban province of Granma when the crash occurred, police are still investigating the causes.
For Elizardo Sanchez, Head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights, his death at 60 comes as a huge blow to the pro-democracy movement in Cuba:“Without a doubt, Oswaldo Paya, was the most relevant figure of the political opposition against the totalitarian regime of the Castro brothers…He was able to get more than 20,000 signatures to ask for reforms in the Cuban government’s laws, something without precedent. That is just the kind of good example that others should follow that it is possible to achieve your goals employing non-violent means as he did.”
A devout Catholic, Paya was sent to a labor camp in the 1960s for his beliefs. Overcoming intimidation he built Cuba’s first nationwide opposition movement. His efforts led to two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought in 2002.