Widow of Cuban dissident Payá wants to meet Carromero

Ofelia Acevedo, widow of dissident Oswaldo Payá, says she wants to hear Spanish politician Angel Carromero’s version of the car crash that killed her husband.

12/19/2012 12:00 AM

12/18/2012 5:22 PM

The widow of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá said Tuesday she wants to speak with Angel Carromero, the Spanish politician convicted of causing her husband’s death in a car crash, before he leaves the island to serve the rest of his prison sentence in Spain.

Ofelia Acevedo’s comments came after Payá’s Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) published several posts on Facebook over the weekend repeating allegations that Cuban security agents bore responsibility for the accident.

Acevedo said she plans to go to the Spanish embassy in Havana in the next few days to ask that she and her daughter, Rosa Maria, be allowed to meet with Carromero and hear his version of the crash before he is sent to Spain.

Carromero was sentenced to four years in prison for vehicular homicide for having been at the wheel of a rented car that crashed July 22, killing Payá and MCL activist Harold Cepero. The Spaniard and Swedish politician Jens Aaron Modig escaped with minor injuries.

The Spanish and Cuban governments announced last week that Carromero will be allowed to return to Madrid soon under a 1998 bilateral agreement that allows convicts from those countries to serve their prison terms in their home countries.

Payá’s family has said repeatedly that the crash was not Carromero’s fault and pointed to a string of unconfirmed reports indicating that State Security agents who had followed Payá caused the crash by ramming Carromero’s car and forcing it off the road.

“We have been asking to speak with him since the crash took place,” Acevedo told El Nuevo Herald on Tuesday by phone from her home in Havana. “We are going to go to the embassy in the next few days to ask again to speak to him before he leaves.”

After most of the news stories on the Carromero repatriation agreement last week failed to mention the accusations of a government hand in the crash, the MCL published four posts on its Facebook page Saturday providing a few new details and repeating some old ones.

The day before the crash, Carromero and Modig sent text messages to friends in Europe reporting Payá was being tightly watched by security agents, one post noted. Another said Carromero reported after the crash that Payá was alive when he was pulled from the wreckage.

A third post alleged that Cepero arrived alive at a hospital but “was allowed to die” because nurses were told he was a “terrorist.” The Cuban government often labels dissidents as “counterrevolutionaries” or “mercenaries.”

The digital Madrid newspaper El Confidencial, meanwhile, quoted unidentified MCL members and supporters in Spain as saying that the Spanish government had told them “we could not say anything that would anger the Cuban dictatorship.”

Opponents of the Cuban government have steadfastly alleged that the conservative government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy cut a deal with Havana to cover up any state security role in the fatal crash in exchange for Cuba’s cooperation in getting Carromero home early.

The Cuban government has made public a video recording of Carromero’s interrogation in which he makes no mention of any third-party responsibility for the crash. Modig, who returned to Sweden a week after the accident, has said he was sleeping before the crash and does not remember what happened.

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