Monday, July 23, 2012

Remembering Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero - friends, leaders, inspirations

Sean with Harold.
This morning, Raíces de Esperanza (Roots of Hope) deeply mourns the loss of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero, Cuban civil rights leaders who passed away on Sunday, July 22, 2012. These courageous and patriotic men never gave up on building a Cuba that is free from oppression, inspiring many around the world to believe the same. We at Roots of Hope join their families and friends in remembering them as men, as well as their commitment to building a civil society in Cuba. Their work will continue to inspire generations of young Cubans.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who received the Sakharov Prize in 2002 and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, created the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba in 1998. Together with other members of the movement, he founded the Varela Project and collected tens of thousands of signatures across Cuba as part of a national referendum to ask for legislative changes regarding freedom of expression, fair elections, and amnesty for political prisoners in Cuba. Payá’s hard work and dedication to his homeland inspired young leaders on and off the island. He died defending the rights of every Cuban to be free, and will continued to be remembered as the hero that inspired a generation.

Harold Cepero was a friend, a brother who's love and solidarity only grew stronger with distance and time. We first learned of Harold after he risked it all to simply stand up for what he believed in and was kicked out of his university. His peer example, his sacrifice, his courage and his unfaltering commitment was what has inspired so many Roots to dedicate ourselves to our mission. He dedicated his entire life to spreading love, hope and peace. He inspired young people to take ownership of their lives, and he was a dreamer. Though Harold has left this earth, his brilliant soul continues to shine on all the lives that he has touched. He taught so many of us that serving those in need is not just our duty, but rather it is what gives us the greatest sense of happiness. Harold dreamed of a day when young people could become the authors of their own futures and labored with unending love to realize it. Now its up to us to ensure his memory doesn't die and to make his dream a reality.

Roots of Hope would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá. We have lost two heroes. Their actions and faith will be reflected in their legacy and their hopes for Cuba will forever be remembered.