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Cuba: Reform or Regression?

June 17, 2013 3 minute Read by Elizabeth Hoffman

The Cuban regime made headlines earlier this year when it announced that it would overhaul the decades-old migratory law, which has restricted the ability of Cuban citizens to travel abroad. Observers watched anxiously, hoping that this would be the beginning of significant democratic change on the island that has been under the tight grip of the Castro brothers for the past half century. 

Among those granted permission to travel abroad was Rosa Maria Paya, the daughter of the late opposition leader, Oswaldo Paya. Rosa Maria embarked on a whirlwind tour of the United States and Europe, and she did not pull any punches. She spoke frankly to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Organization of American States, and officials in Washington, DC, regarding the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding her father’s death. Rosa Maria and her family have demanded an independent investigation into the role of the Cuban government in Oswaldo’s controversial death in 2012.  

Dissident Regis Iglesias Ramirez, a confidant of Oswaldo Paya, remembers his friend on the Freedom Collection:

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Despite widespread speculation that she might attempt to seek asylum while abroad, Rosa Maria returned to Cuba. The world collectively breathed a sigh of relief when she arrived home without incident. International attention quickly faded. Meanwhile, the regime waited in the wings, preparing to make its move.

State security agents quietly began setting up camp outside the family home of Rosa Maria. A post on the government’s official blog ominously warned that any “false accusations” about her father’s death would result in arrest and imprisonment. Amid these threats, it is unsurprising that on June 10 The Miami Herald reported that the Paya family arrived in South Florida and plans to settle in Miami.

It appears that in allowing Cubans greater freedoms abroad, the regime has stepped up repression at home. One step forward, two steps back.

 

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