10 years since he was murdered in a provoked car wreck still masqueraded as accidental, the life of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (1952-2012) appears to readers of David Hoffman’s new biography—Give Me Liberty (2022)—like a 60-year-long race against Fidel Castro. What the two men were racing toward came into sharper focus upon Fidel’s natural death in 2016. By removing every obstacle in his path, the socialist strongman lived to perpetuate into the 21st century the tyranny dressed up as egalitarian utopia he had launched in a revolution the year before Payá’s birth. By envisioning, instead, a Cuba where the people freely ruled themselves, the Christian dissident had become Fidel’s main such obstacle by the early 2010s. And so it came to pass, that on a deserted highway near Bayamo, in Cuba’s east, in the sweltering mid-July heat in 2012, the world’s oldest dictatorship got a new lease on life. Despite Oswaldo’s steely resolve to outlive his regime, Fidel won that day the race to Cuba’s future. In this interview with Jorge González-Gallarza, Pulitzer price-winning author David Hoffman reflects on the legacy of the Cuban dissident.
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