Cuban dissident’s daughter calls for investigation
Posted on Friday, 04.12.13
Cuban dissident's daughter calls for investigation
By CHRISTINE ARMARIO
MIAMI — The daughter of a Cuban dissident who led one of the most
significant campaigns for political change on the island said Friday
there is enough evidence to warrant an international investigation into
her father's death.
Rosa Maria Paya said witness accounts, text messages and statements made
after a July car crash involving her father raise questions about the
Cuban government's official account. The crash killed Oswaldo Paya and
youth activist Harold Cepero.
The two dissidents and another passenger were in a car driven by
Spaniard Angel Carromero in Bayamo, Cuba, when he lost control and
struck a tree, according to government authorities. Carromero was
convicted in Cuba of vehicular homicide and returned to Spain to serve
out a four-year sentence.
In an interview published last month in The Washington Post, Carromero
said he was being followed by a car before the crash. Paya and Cepero
told him the car must be from "la Comunista" because it had blue
licenses plates like those used by the government. Carromero said the
last time he looked in his rearview mirror he realized the car behind
them had gotten too close "and suddenly I felt a thunderous impact from
Carromero said he was threatened by government officials when he said
he'd been struck from behind. An officer provided him with a different
version of events and said if he went along with it, nothing would
happen to him, Carromero said. He said he was heavily drugged at the time.
"They gave me another statement to sign – one that in no way resembled
the truth," Carromero said.
Speaking at the University of Miami on Friday, Paya's daughter said
Carromero's statement confirmed the evidence she had already gathered,
which included text messages and statements from people at the hospital
after the crash. Those accounts included mentions of another vehicle at
the scene of the crash, though she did not go into detail.
"I'm asking for help so that this investigation is realized," Rosa Maria
Paya said. "I want to know the truth."
Eight U.S. senators have written a letter to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States last
month calling for an investigation.
Oswaldo Paya was 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 in Cuba. The
initiative is regarded as the largest nonviolent campaign to change the
system Fidel Castro established.
Rosa Maria Paya is one of several prominent Cuban dissidents recently
allowed to leave the island after Cuba eliminated the exit permit that
had been required of islanders for five decades. Cuban authorities can
still deny travel in cases of "national security" and not all dissidents
have been allowed to leave.
Paya's calls for an international investigation are unlikely to be
received by the Cuban government.
Arturo Lopez-Levy, a lecturer at the University of Denver who once
worked for the Cuban government, said he could not recall any case in
which an international commission had gone to Cuba to investigate a
situation similar to the one Paya's daughter is requesting.
He said Oswaldo Paya probably was followed, as the Cuban security
apparatus has long been known to do with opposition leaders. He doubted
there was a purposeful attempt to kill Paya.
"It would be the type of thing that would bring a lot of condemnation
against the Cuban government," Lopez-Levy said. "And they didn't need it
because the movement of Mr. Paya was in decline."
Paya said she is not counting on Cuban government's cooperation. She
said her family has been threatened and harassed as they've pushed for
answers in her father's death.
"I fear for the life of my family," she said.
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