One talks about the United States’ money for civil society….the United States’ money won’t cause change in Cuba.
See more of interview in 30-minute video on the Cuba Money Project’s Vimeo channel.
Payá said he and other activists don’t plan to “wait until the government grants us rights.” Instead, he said, they plan to form citizens’ committees and push for free elections. And he said he has hope there will be peaceful change. He said:
Cuban people are waking up.
Payá said all he wants from the United States is “respect for the Cuban people” and “solidarity.” That will help lead to peace and reconciliation, he said.
In 1987, Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba. In 1996 and 1997, he and other members of the movement wrote the Varela Project, a petition drive aimed at changing Cuba’s political system from within. Former President Jimmy Carter was among those who publicly supported the project.
In March 2003, Cuban authorities arrested more than 40 activists and dissidents who had backed the Varela Project and had collected signatures. They were convicted of various charges and given prison terms ranging from 12 to 28 years.
In 2010, Cuban officials began freeing the dissidents before they completed their jail sentences. All are now free. Most accepted exile in Spain and other countries.
Payá, who was not jailed during the 2003 crackdown, has continued his efforts to bring about change in Cuba. His supporters have nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize several times since 2003.
In February 2011, seven Norwegian lawmakers nominated Payá for the prize, which is expected to be awarded in October.