What Cuba does to its own people. By Rosa María Payá Acevedo / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The daughter of pro-democracy activist Oswaldo Payá tells the story of his death at the hands of state security


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cuba-people-article-1.1326466#ixzz2RTvzdnTZ

On July 22, 2012, Cuban pro-democracy activists Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero of the Christian Liberation Movement were killed in a car crash near the town of Bayamo as they and two European visitors were traveling to visit fellow dissidents. Although Cuban authorities claimed the crash was an accident, one of the survivors, visiting Spanish politician Ángel Carromero, later confirmed that government functionaries ran the car off the road — and subsequently coerced him to sign off on their version of events. Oswaldo Payá’s daughter, Rosa María, has called for an independent investigation by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Below is her account of the events surrounding her father’s death.

I knew right away that the deaths of my father and Harold were not an accident. Text messages sent by the two survivors of the crash to Madrid and Stockholm saying that they had been rammed and pushed off the road were our first clue. And earlier death threats on the part of the Cuban government’s state security services were all at once solidified in our minds.

As the days passed, information started to come in from various sources. There were affidavits of witnesses read by the police captain, Fulgencio Medina, on the night of July 22 in front of my friends saying that there was at least one other car involved (a red Lada). There were tweets posted by state security officials in which it was clear that they had been following my father since the morning of the crash.

Then I met with the young Spaniard, Ángel Carromero, who was driving that car. He confirmed to me that they were constantly being followed by state security cars and that, at one spot on the road, a car intentionally rammed them from behind.

When Ángel managed to stop the car, the people who came out of the red Lada hit Ángel and Aron Modig (a Swedish politician) — and then they were taken away to a hospital.

Since then, our efforts have been directed at clarifying what happened. We have the right to know the truth. We are not looking to heal past wounds, but rather to make sure that what happened to my father and Harold does not happen to anyone else in Cuba.

It is urgent because the same oppressors who threatened to kill my father now call my family’s home in Havana to say, “We are going to kill you.”

It is urgent because arbitrary arrests, beatings and intimidation against the democratic opposition have been rising on our island.

For several years, the Castro regime has been trying to sell a series of minor reforms that, in truth, do not give citizens any of the serious rights that my father and others demanded. Every reform works as one more way to control citizens, rather than as a real tool of empowerment for Cubans or a way to strengthen civil society.

My father and Harold strongly denounced this fraudulent change by Cuban authorities to improve their image and standing on the world stage — and to keep their grip on the island. Through the Varela Project, they pushed for real democracy, for the kind of freedom we have been long promised and long denied.

I only hope that the international community and people of conscience around the world support my call for truth from the Cuban government and press it for the reforms my father believed were essential. This is urgent. We are running out of time.

Payá Acevedo is a youth activist with the Christian Liberation Movement of Cuba. She spent most of March and April of this year in Europe and the United States advocating for an independent investigation into the crash described above — and for the recognition of basic human rights in Cuba.


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