Cuban Dissident Promoted as Nominee for Nobel Peace Prize

Foundation Praises Oswaldo Payá Sardinas, a Catholic

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic, JUNE 14, 2002 ( The Czech foundation People in Need has initiated a campaign to promote the nomination of Cuban dissident Catholic Oswaldo Payá Sardinas for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Czech President Vaclav Havel supports the initiative, the ACI Catholic news agency reported. Efforts are also being made to obtain the support of additional European and world personalities, as well as Nobel laureates.

The foundation hopes to present all letters of support for the nomination to the Nobel Prize committee in Norway before January.

«We have been in direct contact with Oswaldo Payá since 1997, and we are convinced that he is a person of integrity and of solid democratic principles,» said Tomas Pojar, the foundation´s director.

«For this reason, the People in Need foundation conferred the 1999 Homo Homini award on him, which was given to him personally in Havana by Czech Senator Michael Zantovsky,» Pojar added.

Pojar explained that with this nomination, there is also an effort to support the Varela Project, an initiative backed by 11,020 Cubans, which calls for elections, liberty and respect for human rights. The Pope is the project´s principal coordinator.

Payá, a father of three known for his Catholic faith, was a «key figure of the 1980s Cuban internal opposition, and is now responsible for one of the most organized peace initiatives — the Christian Liberation Movement — to promote the defense of human rights and democracy in Cuba,» Pojar said.

The foundation also noted that the dissident spent three years in forced labor camps for openly opposing the Communist regime.

The foundation has an e-mail address available for any contribution to the campaign:

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