In the rich American tradition of proposing name changes to the D.C. streets housing foreign embassies as a show of protest, Sen. Ted Cruz now wants the streets where the reopened Cuban embassy sits named for a famous dissident.
Cruz (R-Tex.), who is of Cuban heritage, has introduced a resolution to rename the intersections of 16th and Fuller streets NW and of 16th and Euclid streets NW as “Oswaldo Payá Way.”
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Payá, who advocated for a democratic Cuba, died in a car accident in 2012 that many believe was a targeted attack by the Castro government to silence him. Americans have urged an investigation into his death.
Cruz, in a shot at President Obama, said, “it is my hope that this gesture will reassure those fighting for freedom in Cuba that there are still some in the United States who stand with them.”
He is also preparing a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry about allegations that Payá’s daughter, attending a joint news conference Monday with Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, was told by a State Department official not to ask questions or she’d be “forcibly removed.”
This year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban American, brought her as his guest to the State of the Union weeks after Obama announced plans to thaw the two countries’ half-century diplomatic freeze.
“I hope Rosa María Payá’s presence on Tuesday night will at least remind (Obama) that her father’s murderers have not been brought to justice, and that the U.S. is now, in fact, sitting at the table with them,” Rubio said.
Cruz’s effort to rename the embassy street is probably nothing more than a symbolic gesture.
But it’s not an impossible reach. A year ago, there was a serious bipartisan effort to rename a portion of the street outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington after imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
And in 1984, when the Soviet Embassy (now the Russian ambassador’s residence) was on 16th Street NW between L and M streets, Congress actually renamed a portion of that block “Sakharov Plaza” after human rights activist Andrei Sakharov.
It still is:
So it could happen. Or perhaps, with fellow presidential contender Rubio angling for staunchest opponent to Castro’s Cuba, Cruz’s move was simply an astute show of one-upmanship.