From Religious Fidelism to Oswaldo Paya’s Rebellion

By Lynn Cruz

HAVANA TIMES – Communism and Religion are opposites. They both have ideology at their heart, so they are incompatible. If we remember that back in 1960, the US Government and the Catholic Church organized Operation Peter Pan, a maneuver designed to transport the children of Cuban parents who opposed the Communist regime.

The Escambray insurgents, Hubert Matos’ rebellion, the execution of opposition members by firing squad, were some of the first enemies of Fidel Castro’s regime, and his declaration in 1961, of the socialist nature of a revolution that had been comprised of different factions, up until then.

There were three mass exoduses: Camarioca (1965), Mariel (1980), Los Balseros (1994). Miami would receive Cubans from different periods and social origins. However, the pain of the latter is underestimated, because they were mostly outcasts or children of people who probably benefitted from the Cuban regime, but then had to flee because of the crisis that ensued after the former Soviet Bloc collapsed. This got me to thinking and I think I’ve reached the heart of the matter: this Cuban-US conflict is a conflict of classes.

It wasn’t until the ‘90s that the existence of organized opposition groups in Cuba became known. Almost 30 years have passed since then, and Fidelism continues to endure in spite of its leader’s death and attempts of reform.

I recently published a post on my Facebook wall and said that we Cubans found ourselves in the 16th century, referring to the “reforms” implemented by Raul Castro’s government, the so-called “Guidelines”. I also spoke about the targeted “counter-revolutionaries”, how we were like Martin Luther and his critical rebellion against the Catholic Church. 

The closest thing we had to Luther here in Cuba, was Oswaldo Paya, the founder of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and the Varela Project.  In 1992, Paya went public for the first time and announced his intention to run for a seat in the National Assembly of People’s Power. Creating this political movement without a religious affiliation, he was taking the Cuban Constitution as his second bible and that’s where he decided to take a stance.

The Communist Party (PCC) stopped his nomination at the time. Then, in 1997, Paya and another 10 MCL members collected hundreds of signatures supporting their candidacies as National Assembly members. This opposition group acted from a position of respect for the established power.

However, we have seen over time that the PCC doesn’t want real change, but only changes that come from the PCC itself. Just like the Catholic Church did in the beginning when Luther criticized the role of the Pope.

In 1998, Paya also collected over 10,000 signatures to present an appeal for legislative changes, via a popular referendum. His petition demanded freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free elections, business freedom and amnesty for political prisoners, the latter with the aim to reconcile Cubans.

Paya didn’t accept help from the US government, and he opposed the embargo. He refused to support the mission of some Cuban political groups in the US with regard to implementing a program of reclaiming land, after exiles returned to Cuba.

He was, of course, attacked by more conservative groups on both shores of the Florida Strait. Abroad, he was considered a Communist, and on the island, he and his family were intimidated by the police and State Security, until his death in 2012.

I totally identify with Paya. I believe that he is the dissident who was best able to expose the two powers that have determined Cuban politics over the past 61 years. Politicians in exile and their disproportionate support for stifling the Cuban economy, and the Castro family and their closest acolytes. The cause of Paya’s death is still unknown.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

21 thoughts on “From Religious Fidelism to Oswaldo Paya’s Rebellion

  • May 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Nick, you are obviously too engaged in pursuing support for those “Cuban Communist politicians” to notice that I did not make any comment upon the incident itself. Perhaps you would care to quote from my contributions in support of your baseless accusation:

    “you and others base your conclusions”


    “unlike you, I have drawn no conclusion as to who was responsible in this specific case.”

    Just illustrate Nick, don’t just blindly pursue your imagination in endeavor to smear!

  • May 15, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Mr MacD,
    As is abundantly clear, you and others base your conclusions on your preference for the Spanish Right-Wing-Christian politician over the Cuban Communist politicians.

    In my case, I have no preference for either of these political persuasions and, unlike you, I have drawn no conclusion as to who was responsible in this specific case.

    My only conclusion, for the umpteenth time, is that Oswaldo Paya’s death was a sad loss because he seemed like a decent man.

  • May 14, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Reference final paragraph of contribution by Nick.
    …….and as you demonstrate Nick, so do those of left wing political persuasion.

  • May 14, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    14/05/2020 8000 firmas online en Change. org y cientos a mano dentro de Cuba ( pues la web está bloqueada por el régimen) piden a #MichelleBachelet Alta Comisionada DD.HH. ONU investigación muertes de #OswaldoPaya y Harold Cepero. Mártires del Movimiento Cristiano Liberación. #Cuba

  • May 14, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    It’s entirely your prerogative to come up with as many excuses as you wish for this Right-Wing-Christian Politician from Spain who changed his story in order to reduce his prison sentence and further his political career.
    It’s curious that this individual who you are defending stated that the car was being repeatedly rammed but the other Rigt-Wing-Christian Wanna-be Politician (non jail sentence) survivor still states that he slept throughout the journey up until the impact with the tree…..
    He must have had an awful-big heavy old drinking session the night before (for a right wing fundamentalist god fearing Christian) to have slept throughout all that car-ramming commotion ??

    Everyone has the prerogative to base their conclusions on their political opinions and objectives rather than on the available facts and that would most definitely include all those of a right wing political persuasion……..

  • May 14, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I have had a speeding ticket as well just about everyone has.

    Did you know about a couple of months before his death Paya and his wife had their 1964 VW van rammed from behind in Havana and turned on it’s side. The photo is on the net.
    I seriously doubt it’s a coincidence.

  • May 13, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Brad is saying that I am siding with ‘the communist regime’. I’m afraid you have misread my comment Brad.
    I’m referring the speed of the vehicle driven by a young man with a previous speeding conviction. I’m referring to the driver being inexperienced on Cuban roads. I’m putting forward the facts regarding that stretch of the road being unsurfaced at that time as can be seen from the footage. I’m also making a presumption that the car was being followed. And I’m posing the question ‘was it rammed?’
    It’s blatantly obvious that I’m not siding with anyone in my comment other than with those who also presume that the car was being followed.
    I have no need to side with anyone. Neither with Communist Politicians in Cuba nor with the Right-Wing-Christian Politician in Spain who changed his story in order try and reduce the sentence he was serving in Spain for ‘involuntary manslaughter’.
    If I’m going to side with anyone it would be with Oswaldo Paya. As I said, his death was a great shame and mentioned that to his eternal credit he was no U.S. flunky.
    In fact, because of his refusal to take the U.S./Miami dollar, some of the more rabidly right wing of the Miami faction regarded him (during his lifetime) as a Communist Sympathiser.

  • May 13, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Nick said
    “The car was being driven way too fast by the Spanish Guy on an unsurfaced road that he was not accustomed to. The car was undoubtedly being followed. But was it rammed ?”

    You are siding with the communist regime’s version of the event that completely contradicts the drivers version of the event.

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