The human rights arm of the Organization of American States has formally asked Cuba for details of the disputed car crash that killed noted dissident Oswaldo Payá, his daughter, Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, revealed Monday.
Payá Acevedo also told El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald that ruler Raúl Castro’s economic reforms amount to “fraud” and noted that “neither Castro nor (his hand-picked successor Miguel) Diaz-Canel were elected by the people.”
The 24-year-old physicist said she learned of the letter sent by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights 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.
Payá 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 police 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, Canada and nine other OAS members have not done so.
Payá 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 accident 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 prison.
Carromero asserted in the Washington Post interview that another vehicle, presumably driven by State Security agents who were tailing Payá, rammed his rented vehicle from behind and forced him off the road.
Payá Acevedo said Carromero gave her the same version of the crash when they met in Spain 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.
Payá Acevedo has been repeating her family’s demand for an independent investigation of Payá’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.