“The daughter of Cuban dissident Oswado Payá said Thursday that the Spanish politician convicted in her fathers’ death told her in person that another vehicle rammed his — and that Payá first survived the accident,” the Miami Herald reports:
Angel Carromero “confirmed the events that we had already alleged,” Rosa Maria Payá told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Madrid after a news conference in which she laid out details of the allegation that Cuban security agents caused the fatal accident.
The car he was driving was struck from behind just before the accident and he was heavily drugged when he appeared to admit to reckless driving, he said in an interview with The Washington Post:
Carromero, a member of the youth wing of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party, was at the wheel of a rental car when it crashed in eastern Cuba about 500 miles from Havana, killing Oswaldo Payá , a leading dissident, and Payá ’s colleague Harold Cepero.
“I drove carefully, giving them no reason to stop us,” Carromero said. “The last time I looked in the mirror, I realized that the car had gotten too close — and suddenly I felt a thunderous impact from behind.”
Carromero said he lost consciousness and thinks his memory of the events was affected by drugs administered while he was in the care of Cuban authorities. He said that he told investigators that his car was struck from behind and that they were angered by his statement.
“They warned me that I was their enemy and that I was very young to lose my life,” he said. “One of them told me that what I had told them had not happened and that I should be careful, that depending on what I said things could go very well or very badly for me.”
A recent must-see film (above) shot undercover by Al Jazeera, features footage from Payá’s funeral and shocking scenes of police attacks on the mourners.
At a funeral mass attended by hundreds of people in Havana, Payá‘s son, Oswaldo, told the BBC that his father had received many death threats and that the car had been pushed off the road deliberately.
The latest revelations appear to confirm suspicions of foul play voiced at the time of Payá’s death by his fellow dissidents and democracy advocates.
The regime targeted Payá (right) because he “crossed a red line in challenging the government’s relations with the church, which had become a pillar of the government’s strategy of survival…. at a time when the regime, emboldened by the cardinal’s silence at the mass arrests during the pope’s visit to Cuba in March, was not about to tolerate criticism,” said the National Endowment for Democracy’s Carl Gershman:
Visiting Bayamo with foreigners — the two survivors of the crash were fellow Catholics from Spain and Sweden — crossed another red line. The city is the center of the cholera outbreak in the eastern part of Cuba, and for the regime, the disease is not just a medical problem but also an economic and political threat. ….The spread of the disease also challenges Cuba’s self-image as a medical superpower and could arouse anger in citizens who believe that sending Cuban doctors to Venezuela and other countries detracts from the care they receive at home. The fact that Bayamo has experienced labor unrest the past two years and was a rebel stronghold during Cuba’s war of independence against Spain and the uprising against Batista further arouses the regime’s anxiety.
“He had said they were going to kill him. And this was the third accident he had this year,” charged Martha Beatriz Roque, a well-known dissident economist.
“Something has got to be done urgently so that this does not go any further,” said Roque, one of 75 dissidents jailed after the 2003 Black Spring crackdown.
The Communist regime had a further incentive to remove Paya, said analysts.
“What really distinguished him was that unlike almost all the others, he engaged in retail politics,” said Philip Peters, a Cuba expert with the Lexington Institute. “His Varela Project stands out as the only initiative of its time that enlisted citizen participation on a large scale. No one else did that, before or since.”
“The most important thing for me is that the Payá family always has defended my innocence, when they are the most injured by this tragedy,” Carromero said. “That’s why, when I met Rosa Maria [Payá’s daughter] this week, I could not hide the truth anymore. I am not only innocent — I am another victim, who might also be dead now.”