Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced that Cuban activist Rosa María Payá will be his official guest for Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address by President Obama. Payá is the daughter of the late Oswaldo Payá who, along with Cuban youth activist Harold Cepero, was killed in an automobile accident on July 22, 2012, in Bayamo, Cuba.
Since then, the vehicle’s driver has alleged that the car was deliberately targeted by Cuban government officials. However, the Cuban regime has denied all requests to conduct an independent investigation.
In announcing Ms. Payá as his guest, Rubio issued the following statement:
“For years, Oswaldo Payá courageously traveled throughout Cuba collecting tens of thousands of signatures from ordinary Cubans on a petition that came to be known as the Varela Project, which sought a peaceful democratic transition. All Oswaldo Payá wanted was a better future for Cuba and the Cuban people, and the Castro regime assassinated him for it.
I’m honored that Rosa María Payá will join us in the Capitol on Tuesday evening as the president addresses our nation. Since her father’s murder, Rosa María has honored his legacy by continuing to advocate for a free and democratic Cuba and also fighting to bring his murderers to justice. In 2013, Rosa María visited the Senate and met with several senators who pledged their assistance in her search for justice.
In his remarks, I expect the president will bring up his new Cuba policy, especially since his administration is heading to Havana this week to discuss giving the regime legitimacy and greater access to American dollars it will use to fund its machine of repression – the very machine that harassed Oswaldo Payá for years, eventually murdered him and pays hush money to potential key witnesses.
While I disagree with the president’s new Cuba policy, I hope Rosa María Payá’s presence on Tuesday night will at least remind him that her father’s murderers have not been brought to justice, and that the U.S. is now, in fact, sitting at the table with them. I hope the administration takes the opportunity to demand reforms and changes in Cuban behavior before relations are normalized. At the very least, President Obama and his administration should push the Cuban regime to allow an impartial, third party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo and Harold.”