Young Cuban Democracy Leader to be Posthumously Honored

Saturday, June 22, 2013
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)’s 2013 Democracy Award will highlight the important role that youth are playing in advancing democracy in the world today.  In this, its 30th anniversary year, NED will honor three outstanding young people who are working in extraordinarily challenging environments to create a democratic future in their respective countries.  The Endowment will also make a posthumous award to a fourth young democrat whose life was cut short in the midst of his struggle.

NED will present its award to activists from Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe and Cuba at a July 17th Capitol Hill ceremony in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building.

The Cuban honoree is:

Harold Cepero, (1980-2012)

Cepero was the leader of the youth wing of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), the group that organized the Varela project -- a citizen petition movement that called for a popular referendum to establish the foundation for a democratic system in Cuba. With more than 25,000 Cubans publicly signing the petition, the Varela Project became one of the most creative challenges to the country’s totalitarian rulers. On July 22, 2012, Cepero was killed in a suspicious car crash along with Cuba’s most prominent democratic activist and founder of the MCL, Oswaldo Payá.

Rosa María Payá Acevedo, another young leader of the MCL and the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, will accept the award on behalf of Cepero and the Christian Liberation Movement.