Frank Calzon, director of the Center for a Free Cuba, said he met Payá when he visited Washington.
He was a unique human being. His killing, there is no other way of explaining it, is a major setback for those who would like to see democracy and human rights in Cuba but Im sure the Cuban people will overcome the feeling of pain that we suffer and continue to work for what he worked for all his life, said Calzon.
As word of Payás death spread, others also eulogized him.
MAN OF PEACE
Payá was a man of peace and strong Catholic faith and because of this he was a threat to the Castro dictatorship, said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. His death leaves a void that will be tough to fill. Payá will be remembered for his unflinching stance against the Castro tyranny and for his commitment to a free Cuba.
Juan J. Sosa, the pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Miami Beach, attended the Marist Brothers School with him in Havana.
I am sorry to hear of his tragic, accidental passing, but I give thanks to God for his heroic stand in the island, as he used the window provided by the Constitution of Cuba to [try to] amend it through the Project Varela, said Sosa He certainly paved the way for many others to speak out and to be counted in search of an authentic democratic process in a free society...
I was able to meet him again, after a few decades, in the late 80s when his role as a pacifist dissident was surfacing, said Sosa. Later on, in 2001, when I was invited to conduct a one-week Liturgy Workshop in Havana, he attended a daily Mass I celebrated at our mutual home parish, El Salvador, in the neighborhood known as El Cerro.
Payá was one of four brothers and one sister. An engineer by training, he was employed at a state enterprise that deals with surgical equipment.
He was married and had three children.
Miami Herald writer Daniela Guzman also contributed to this report.
A previous version of this article had an incorrect time for the Mass scheduled at Ermita de la Caridad.