It's Time to Take Off the Gag

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
In today's Miami Herald:

New details on the case involving the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá case emerged after convicted Spanish politician returns home.

An attorney for Angel Carromero, the Spanish politician convicted in the car crash that killed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, said his trial was not fair by western standards, while his political mentor denied that Cuba was paid $3 million for his freedom.

One of Payá’s brothers, meanwhile, said another Spanish politician who visited Cuba prior to Carromero’s trip this summer told him that a car he believes was driven by security agents rammed his vehicle, just as security agents allegedly did to Carromero’s vehicle.

Carromero flew home Saturday under a 1998 pact that allows citizens of Cuba and Spain to serve prison sentences in their home countries. He was sentenced to four years for speeding and causing the July 22 car crash that killed Payá and fellow dissident Harold Cepero.

His arrival in Madrid unleashed a string of reports and details about the crash and the trial previously kept under wraps to avoid upsetting the Cuban government and perhaps aggravating the charges against him, his sentence or prison conditions.

“Everyone always said that when Carromero was out of Cuba the truth will be known. Well, it’s time to take off the gag,” Carlos Payá, a brother and physician who lives in Spain, told El Nuevo Herald on Monday in a telephone interview.

Payá’s relatives maintain that a state security car rammed the vehicle driven by Carromero and carrying Payá, Cepero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig just before it crashed into a tree. Authorities said Payá was not wearing a seatbelt. The two Europeans suffered only minor injuries.

Carlos Payá said Pablo Vives, an activist in the Popular Party, the same conservative party that Carromero belongs to, told him that a state security car had rammed his car during his own visit to Cuba to meet with dissidents. Vives could not be immediately contacted for comment [...]

In a string of weekend interviews with journalists after Carromero’s arrival in Madrid, Carlos Payá also claimed that the Spanish Foreign Ministry at one point offered “indemnization” to the widow, Ofelia Acevedo. Under Cuban law, she could have filed her own charge against Carromero, and perhaps preempted a charge from prosecutors.

“The plan was this simple: Ofelia Acevedo accuses, Ofelia Acevedo receives an indemnization, case closed and in 72 hours (Carromero) is home,” the brother said. The family refused, he said, because it wants the full truth to emerge.