A considerable number of deaths from â€œaccidentsâ€� of detractors of the Cuban regime
Investigate the deaths of Cuba’s Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero
Miami,—The circumstances surrounding the death in a car crash last July 22nd of Oswaldo PayÃ¡, CubaÂ´s foremost opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, a young member of his movement, are shrouded in suspicion and countless unanswered questions. Angel Carromero, from Spain and Aron Modig, from Sweden, both 27, survived the crash. While in detention they separately issued self-incriminating public statements validating Cubaâ€™s official version of the crash (CarromeroÂ´s was filmed, ModigÂ´s was in the presence of journalists from news organizations authorized in Cuba). They each faced long years of prison, apparently now â€œforgiven,â€� for violations to Cubaâ€™s despotic national security and immigration laws disallowing â€œunconstitutional political activities.â€� Both are members of youth group of political parties from their respective countries that promote the peaceful democratization of Cuba.
While Modig was released and able to leave the country, his account is compromised by his friendâ€™s continued detention and facing charges of involuntary homicide entailing up to 20 years of prison.
The international community must investigate if these deaths resulted from state-sponsored operations or involved state agents. If suspicions prove well founded, Cuba should be held accountable at all levels â€“bilaterally, multilaterally, and at all appropriate international instances and bodies.
Urgent action is required to demand:
- the safety and well being as well as procedural fairness for Angel Carromero;
- unrestricted access to Carromero by the PayÃ¡ and Cepero families, trusted third parties, and the media at a safe location â€“outside of CubaÂ or at a trusted embassy in Havanaâ€“ with no pressure from Cuban authorities and after toxicology tests have ruled out the presence of drugs;
- transparency from the families and colleagues of Cepero and Modig as well as from the governments of Spain and Sweden regarding events surrounding the crash, including release to the public of records of all calls made and text messages sent by Carromero or Modig the day of the incident;
- comprehensive investigations of the deaths of PayÃ¡ and Cepero conducted by reliable independent international experts granted free and full access to all witnesses and material evidence;
- autopsies of the bodies of PayÃ¡ and Cepero by a trusted pathology team in a facility outside of Cuba.
That the Cuban regime employs terror and violence to silence its detractors is well established. Torture of prisoners â€”including with psychotropic drugsâ€” is commonplace. Thus, there are no guarantees that self-incriminating testimony was not made under duress and/or in exchange for leniency in the severity of the penalties. If the government has nothing to hide, it should have no problem allowing the above.
The official newspaper of CubaÂ´s Communist Party, Granma, has repeated its absurd claim that the revolution has never been responsible for even one extrajudicial killing, disappearance, torture, or kidnapping. Yet, the dictatorshipâ€™s disregard for the sanctity of life and universally held norms of conduct is illustrated in its own laws as well as in first-hand accounts of its citizens and decades of reports by international human rightsâ€™ organizations and entities. Our Truth and Memory project has to date documented 27 forced disappearances and 4,652 lives lost to CubaÂ´s firing squads and in extrajudicial killings, including of many persons in detention or prison. This excludes many more deaths of detainees from lack of medical care and in reported suicides, for which Cuba is also held responsible. This information challenges the Cuban regime to disprove each and every one of these cases.
Furthermore, Cuba Archive has received reports of a considerable number of deaths from â€œaccidentsâ€� of detractors of the Cuban regime â€”in Cuba and in several countriesâ€” surrounded by mysterious circumstances and strongly pointing to state-sponsored killings. Examples are summarized in our Report Cuba: Strange accidents and other unexplained deaths; those resulting in death appear in our electronic database of documented cases (see www.CubaArchive.org for both). The sudden illness and death of Laura PollÃ¡n, leader of CubaÂ´s Ladies in White, deserves to be highlighted and calls for an independent investigation. (See our release of 10/25/2011.)
That the international community has not held Cubaâ€™s government accountable for even its more evident and egregious human rightsâ€™ violations has only emboldened it further. As long as it enjoys sustained impunity and is legitimized by the civilized world, it will continue to employ terror and violence to silence its detractors.
Cuba Archive Truth and Memory Project -Free Society Project/www.CubaArchive.org