RECOGNIZING THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF OSWALDO PAYA SARDINAS; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 58
(Senate - April 11, 2018)

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[Pages S2078-S2079]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 RECOGNIZING THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF OSWALDO PAYA SARDINAS

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 357, S. Res. 
224.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 224) recognizing the 5th anniversary 
     of the death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, and commemorating his 
     legacy and commitment to democratic values and principles.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
resolution, which had been reported from the Committee on Foreign 
Relations, with an amendment and an amendment to the preamble and an 
amendment to the title.
  (Strike all after the resolving clause and insert the part printed in 
italic.)
  (Strike the preamble and insert the part printed in italic.)

       Whereas Oswaldo Paya Sardinas was born in Havana, Cuba, in 
     1952 and became a nonviolent critic of the communist 
     government as a teenager, resulting in 3 years of 
     imprisonment in 1969 at a work camp in Cuba, formerly known 
     as ``Isla de Pinos'';
       Whereas, in 1988, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas founded the 
     Christian Liberation Movement that called for peaceful civil 
     disobedience against the rule of the Communist Party of Cuba 
     and advocated for civil liberties;
       Whereas, in 1992 and 1997, attempts by Oswaldo Paya 
     Sardinas to run as a candidate for the National Assembly of 
     People's Power were rejected by Cuban authorities;
       Whereas, in 1998, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas and other leaders 
     of the Christian Liberation Movement established the Varela 
     Project in order to circulate a legal proposal to advocate 
     for democratic political reforms within Cuba, including the 
     establishment of freedom of association, freedom of speech, 
     freedom of the press, free elections, freedom to start 
     private businesses, and amnesty for political prisoners;
       Whereas, in 2002, the Varela Project delivered a petition 
     to the National Assembly of People's Power with 11,020 
     signatures from Cuban citizens calling for a referendum on 
     safeguarding basic freedoms, an end to one-party rule, and 
     citing Article 88 of the Constitution of Cuba that allows 
     Cuban citizens to propose laws if the proposal is made by at 
     least 10,000 Cuban citizens who are eligible to vote;
       Whereas, in 2003, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas redelivered the 
     petition to the National Assembly of People's Power with an 
     additional 14,000 signatures, establishing the biggest 
     nonviolent campaign to oppose the Communist Party of Cuba;
       Whereas, in March 2003, the crackdown on Cuban dissidents 
     by the Government of Cuba, referred to as the ``Black 
     Spring'', led to the imprisonment of 75 individuals, 
     including 25 members of the Varela Project and 40 members of 
     the Christian Liberation Movement, and the formation of the 
     Ladies in White movement by the wives of the imprisoned 
     activists;
       Whereas, in 2007, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas called on the 
     National Assembly of People's Power to grant amnesty to 
     nonviolent political prisoners and to allow Cubans to travel 
     freely without a government permit;
       Whereas, in 2009, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas developed a Call 
     for the National Dialogue;
       Whereas petitions and calls by Oswaldo Paya Sardinas to the 
     National Assembly of People's Power were repeatedly dismissed 
     and disparaged by the Government of Cuba;
       Whereas Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, his family, and friends 
     endured years of harassment and intimidation for the peaceful 
     political activism of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas;
       Whereas Oswaldo Paya Sardinas has been formally recognized 
     in the past for his dedication to the promotion of human 
     rights and democracy, including by receiving the Homo Homini 
     Award in 1999, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 
     2002, the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the United 
     States National Democratic Institute for International 
     Affairs in 2003, and being nominated for the Nobel Peace 
     Prize by Valclav Havel, the former President of the Czech 
     Republic, in 2005;
       Whereas, on July 22, 2012, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas and Harold 
     Cepero, a fellow pro-democracy activist, died in a troubling 
     car crash in Granma Province, Cuba, after being followed by 
     government agents;
       Whereas the Government of Cuba has failed to conduct a 
     credible investigation into the car crash that led to the 
     death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas;
       Whereas the trial and conviction of Angel Carromero, a 
     youth leader of the People's Party who was visiting Cuba and 
     driving the car at the time of the crash, did not include 
     testimony from key witnesses, and did not resolve questions 
     about whether another car was involved or whether Mr. 
     Carromero was coerced by the Government of Cuba into signing 
     a false statement of guilt;
       Whereas, in 2012, the United States Senate unanimously 
     passed Senate Resolution 525, 112th Congress, agreed to July 
     31, 2012, honoring the life and legacy of Oswaldo Paya 
     Sardinas;
       Whereas, in 2013, a number of United States Senators and 
     the United States Department of State called for an 
     impartial, third-party investigation by the Inter-American 
     Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American 
     States into the circumstances surrounding the death of 
     Oswaldo Paya Sardinas;
       Whereas, in 2013, Angel Carromero spoke in detail during an 
     interview with the Washington Post about being hit by another 
     car during the crash, being mistreated and coerced by Cuban 
     authorities following the crash, and being made the 
     ``scapegoat'' by the Government of Cuba for the death of 
     Oswaldo Paya Sardinas;
       Whereas the dissidents of the ``Black Spring'' have been 
     released from prison, but the Government of Cuba continues to 
     suppress, assault, and detain those peacefully expressing 
     political beliefs contrary to or critical of the regime; and
       Whereas the 2016 Human Rights Report on Cuba by the United 
     States Department of State cited ongoing human rights abuses 
     by the Government of Cuba, namely ``the abridgement of the 
     ability of citizens to choose their government; the use of 
     government threats, physical

[[Page S2079]]

     assault, intimidation, and violent government-organized 
     counter protests against peaceful dissent; and harassment and 
     detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful 
     assembly.'': Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved,
     That the Senate--
       (1) recognizes and commemorates the legacy of Oswaldo Paya 
     Sardinas on the 6th anniversary of his death on July 22, 
     2018;
       (2) honors the commitment of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas to 
     democratic values and principles;
       (3) calls on the Government of Cuba to allow an impartial, 
     third-party investigation into the circumstances surrounding 
     the death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas;
       (4) urges the United States to continue to support policies 
     and programs that promote respect for human rights and 
     democratic principles in Cuba in a manner that is consistent 
     with the aspirations of the Cuban people;
       (5) urges the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of 
     the Organization of American States to continue reporting on 
     human rights issues in Cuba, and to request a visit to Cuba 
     in order to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 
     death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas; and
       (6) calls on the Government of Cuba to cease violating 
     human rights and to begin providing democratic political 
     freedoms to Cuban citizens, including freedom of association, 
     freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free elections, 
     freedom to start private businesses, and amnesty for 
     political prisoners.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I further ask unanimous consent that the committee-
reported amendment to the resolution be agreed to, the resolution, as 
amended, be agreed to, the committee-reported amendment to the preamble 
be agreed to, the preamble, as amended, be agreed to, the committee-
reported amendment to the title be agreed to, and the motions to 
consider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening 
action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The committee-reported amendment in the nature of a substitute was 
agreed to.
  The resolution (S. Res. 224), as amended, was agreed to.
  The committee-reported amendment to the preamble in the nature of a 
substitute was agreed to.
  The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.
  The committee-reported title amendment was agreed to, as follows:

       Amend the title so as to read: ``A resolution recognizing 
     the 6th anniversary of the death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, 
     and commemorating his legacy and commitment to democratic 
     values and principles.''.

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