News and Facts about Cuba

Human-rights group asks Cuba for details of dissident’s death

Human-rights group asks Cuba for details of 's death

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 4:52 pm

Associated Press

The arm of the Organization of American States has formally

asked Cuba for details of the disputed car crash that killed noted

dissident , his daughter, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, revealed


Paya Acevedo also told El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald that ruler

's economic reforms amount to "fraud" and noted that "neither

Castro nor (his hand-picked successor Miguel) Diaz-Canel were elected by

the people."

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The 24-year-old physicist said she learned of the letter sent by the

Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, or IACHR, to the Cuban

government during a meeting in Washington last week with IACHR Executive

Director Emilio Alvarez Icaza.

IACHR press office director Maria Isabel Rivero confirmed the letter was

sent last week but said its text is confidential, like all exchanges

between the commission and OAS member states.

"The Cuban government has not replied to the IACHR in many years. The

only letters … received from Cuba said that the OAS doesn't have moral

authority and the IACHR doesn't have jurisdiction over Cuba," Rivero

added in an email to El Nuevo Herald.

Paya Acevedo said Alvarez, a Mexican sociologist, told her that Cuban

authorities sometimes return IACHR letters unopened.

Cuban authorities also have never given her family a copy of the

official investigation of the crash, she added, even though Cuban

law requires that those reports be provided to the families of traffic

victims within 30 days.

IACHR officials have the power to investigate human rights violations in

the 35 member-nations of the OAS, based on the "American Declaration on

the Rights and Duties of Man," signed by all member-states in 1948. Cuba

remains a member, though its membership was suspended in the 1960s.

The commission also can refer cases to the Inter-American Court of Human

Rights, based in Costa Rica, if the countries involved have ratified the

American Convention on Human Rights and recognized the court's

jurisdiction. Cuba, along with the United States, and nine other

OAS members, have not done so.

Paya Acevedo said Alvarez told her the letter to Cuba was triggered by a

Washington Post report on March 5 alleging that Cuban security agents

caused the July 22 car crash in eastern Cuba that also led to the death

of fellow dissident Harold Cepero.

The Cuban government claims the crash was an caused by their

driver, Spanish politician Angel Carromero. A Cuban court convicted

Carromero of two counts of vehicular homicide and sentenced him to four

years in .

Carromero asserted in the Washington Post interview that another

vehicle, presumably driven by State Security agents who were tailing

Paya, rammed his rented vehicle from behind and forced him off the road.

Paya Acevedo said Carromero gave her the same version of the crash when

they met in earlier this year. The Spaniard left Cuba in December

under an agreement to serve the rest of his sentence in his home country.

Another passenger in the car, Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig, who

was not injured, has said he was dozing at the time of the crash.

Paya Acevedo has been repeating her family's demand for an independent

investigation of Paya's death throughout a two-month trip abroad that

took her to Spain, Sweden, New York, Washington and now South Florida.

She is expected to return to Cuba this week.

She also has been asking the OAS, United Nations and European Parliament

to protect Cuban dissidents "and especially my family," which has become

a growing target of death threats and harassments by State Security

agents since her father's death.

"From our experience, we know they are not fooling around," she said

during her visit with the editorial board and reporters of El Nuevo

Herald and The Miami Herald.

As for Castro's economic reforms, she added, she prefers to call them

"fraud-changes" because she does not believe that there have been real

changes, and the level of repression against dissidents in fact

increased under Raul Castro.

Among other changes, the reforms allow more small-scale private

businesses, make big cuts in the overstuffed public payrolls, and trim

government subsidies in areas such as , and welfare.

Paya Acevedo argued that the changes are designed only to "clean up"

Cuba's image so that the government can win economic concessions from

the United States and Europe.

"It would be dangerous if they start to believe those changes," she added.

Cuba's best future, she noted, lies in the plebiscite on democracy and

human rights that her father proposed under his Varela Project in 2002 —

and backed up with 25,000 signatures with full names and national I.D.

card numbers, she added.

That could lead to a dialogue between the government and its critics,

and a "real transition," Paya Acevedo added.

The Cuban government answered Project Varela with a harsh crackdown in

2003, known as Cuba's Black Spring, that sentenced 75 peaceful

dissidents to prison terms of up to 28 years. All were freed after

serving up to eight years of their sentences.

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