The Communist authorities’ admission that there have been at least 163 new cholera cases in Cuba is reviving speculation about the causes behind the deaths of two leading dissidents.
“The mysterious car wreck that took the life of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá (above) and his associate Harold Cepero (left) last year occurred on an isolated road outside Bayamo, in Cuba’s eastern Granma province,” The Washington Post reports:
Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero were heading to Bayamo to meet with members of the Christian Liberation Movement in a blue 2010 Hyundai Accent, a rental car driven by a young Spanish politician, Ángel Carromero, who was visiting Cuba to support Mr. Payá and his movement. Mr. Carromero survived, as did Jens Aron Modig, of Sweden’s Christian Democratic Youth movement, who had joined him on the trip to Cuba.
The official Cuban version of the accident was that Mr. Carromero was driving too fast, lost control and hit a tree. But a detailed complaint filed by Mr. Paya’s widow, Ofelia Acevedo, and his daughter, Rosa Maria, before the Spanish National Court earlier this month tells a different and more ominous story.
They say that when Mr. Carromero and Mr. Modig met in Havana with Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero on July 20, 2012, they were monitored and followed by Cuban security agents. They were followed again when they departed Havana for Bayamo two days later. On the road, the Hyundai was rammed from behind “premeditatively, deliberately and following the plan orchestrated by the authorities,” which was to kill all four of them, the complaint says.
The recently-appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has called for a credible investigation into the suspicious death of Payá and Cepero, a demand echoed by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
The regime targeted Payá because he “crossed a red line in challenging the government’s relations with the church, a pillar of the government’s strategy of survival…,” the National Endowment for Democracy’s Carl Gershman wrote shortly after the incident:
Visiting Bayamo with foreigners…crossed another red line. The city is the center of the cholera outbreak in the eastern part of Cuba, and for the regime, the ….leakage of information about the outbreak threatens travel to Cuba and tourism, major sources of hard currency, which the regime desperately needs. 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.
“The Spanish National Court, La Audiencia Nacional, is empowered to order investigations abroad under the concept of “universal jurisdiction,” that some crimes are so egregious they must be pursued across borders, including genocide and crimes against humanity,” the Post notes:
Spain has an obligation to Mr. Payá, who was a Spanish citizen; his family argues the Castro regime has not only silenced a critic but attempted to wipe out his movement. The Spanish court ought to order an investigation. It is unlikely that the thugs who rammed Mr. Payá’s car will be called to account, but an investigation would show the world, and the Castro brothers who rule Cuba, that a beacon of hope like Mr. Payá cannot be simply extinguished in a violent car wreck on a lonely road.