Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

World Digest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

World Digest

Article excerpt

Cuban dissidents mourn activist Paya

Cuban dissidents vowed to press ahead with their fight for more political and civil rights Monday despite the death of prominent activist Oswaldo Paya in a car crash. Foreign governments from the United States to the European Union sent messages of condolence.

Several hundred relatives, friends and fellow dissidents converged on a chapel in the Cerro neighborhood of Havana for Paya's wake after his body arrived from the eastern province of Granma.

"He was a person sincerely committed to achieving the best for the Cuban people," said Miriam Leyva, one of the founding members of the activist group Ladies in White.

Paya, 60, gained international fame as the lead organizer of the Varela Project, a signature-gathering drive asking authorities for a referendum on guaranteeing rights such as freedom of speech and assembly. The initiative launched a decade ago was seen as the biggest nonviolent campaign to change the system Fidel Castro established after the 1959 Cuban revolution. Paya died Sunday afternoon along with another dissident, Harold Cepero Escalante, in the crash in La Gavina, 500 miles east of the capital.

Syria could use chemical weapons if attacked - Syria threatened Monday to unleash its chemical and biological weapons if the country faces a foreign attack, a desperate warning from a regime that has failed to crush a powerful and strengthening rebellion. The statement - Syria's first-ever acknowledgement that the country possesses weapons of mass destruction - suggests President Bashar Assad will continue the fight to stay in power, regardless of the cost.

Meanwhile, after a bloody, weeklong siege in the Syrian capital, Damascus, residents are facing hours-long lines for gasoline and bread, stinking piles of garbage in the streets and scenes of destruction unimaginable in a city that had long been spared the worst ravages of the country's uprising. …

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