Official Report on the Death of Oswaldo Paya

Fernando Ravsberg*

Oswaldo Paya’s widow requested a thorough investigation into the accident. Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba’s Ministry of Interior issued a formal report on the investigation of the accident that killed two opposition figures, one of whom was Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, the largest dissident group in the country.

The account confirmed that “this past July 22, at 2:50 p.m., a Hyundai Accent automobile with license plates T31402 went off the road and hit a tree along a stretch of the Las Tunas-Bayamo highway in the town of Las Gabinas, in Granma Province.”

The statement said the vehicle was driven by Spanish citizen Angel Carromero, while a young Swedish man (Jens Aron Modig) was sitting beside him. In the back seat were the two Cuban dissidents — Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero — who both died in the accident.

The report asserts that the Spaniard came onto to an unpaved stretch of the road at “120 kilometers per hour [74 mph] and that a lack of attention in controlling the vehicle, excessive speed and the incorrect decision of applying the brakes suddenly on an unstable surface were the causes of this tragic accident that killed two human beings.”

Driver errors

The communiqué from the Interior Ministry said “the stretch of road where the accident occurred is undergoing repair and for about a mile was not paved (…), which turned it into a dirt road with plenty of gravel, and therefore it was very unstable.”

However, experts assure that “the stretch is a straight road with good visibility and that there was a sign indicating that maintenance work was underway, preceded by similar ones that warned drivers of the sections under repair.”

In his statements to the police, Carromero was reported to have said he “didn’t see the signs warning about the condition of the road. He added that he hit the brakes on the dirt stretch at a speed that he couldn’t specify since he wasn’t looking at the speedometer.”

With the death of Oswaldo Paya, the dissident movement lost its most socially connected leader. Photo: Raquel Perez

The Spaniard had told the authorities that “upon realizing that he was driving on gravel, he attempted to slow down by braking suddenly and the car began to slide sideways until it hit the tree.”

The disaster

According to local expert Captain Jorge Mendoza Fonseca: “The driver applied the brakes in an abrupt manner eighty meters after entering the unpaved segment. The vehicle lost control and the car spun toward its left side.”

The vehicle continued to slide “for about 63 meters, veering such that the front was toward the shoulder and the rear was near the center of the road, until impacting a tree off to the right side of the road, which confirms the extreme speed at which the car was being driven.”

Investigators said that “the vehicle had a dent that was 67 inches wide and 45 inches deep on its left rear (…) characteristics and dimensions that correspond to the trunk of the tree in question.”

Three witnesses confirm what happened. These included Jose Duque, an area resident who was traveling by bicycle on the road; and tractor driver Lazarus Wilber Parra Rondon, who was driving in the opposite direction.  Parra Rondon said, “When I was approaching, I saw the car was losing control and then it slammed into a tree on the shoulder.”

Accident or conspiracy?

Dissident bloggers immediately began spreading the story that the car had been run off the road after being hit by a truck. The Oswaldo Paya family too doubted that it was a simple accident and requested a full investigation into the incident.

Nevertheless, up until now there’s nothing that can hold weight concerning a plot to murder the dissident. Even the photos circulated online were of a wrecked vehicle whose color, model and license plates didn’t match the one involved in the accident.

With the confirmation that the deaths of Paya and Cepero resulted from the violation of traffic laws committed by Angel Carromero, he will undoubtedly face criminal charges, and if convicted he will have to serve a sentence that can range from one to ten years in prison.

The issue is further complicated because both the Spaniard and the Swedish citizen, Jens Aron Modig, are youth leaders of right-wing parties in their respective countries. They came to Cuba supposedly as tourists but were actually performing tasks in support of the dissident movement.

(*) An authorized Havana Times translation of the original posted by Cartasdesdecuba.


3 thoughts on “Official Report on the Death of Oswaldo Paya

  • To even suggest that all these men who shared anti-government, and counter-revolutionary thinking were only sharing a car ride is beyond being merely naive.

    It is extremely fortunate that there were eye-witnesses to the accident or as this excerpt from the article above: (Dissident bloggers immediately began spreading the story that the car had been run off the road after being hit by a truck. The Oswaldo Paya family too doubted that it was a simple accident and requested a full investigation into the incident) indicates counter-revolutionary groups would have put out their usual sensationalist lies to defame the revolution.

  • I was curious about the statement that the two foreigners were youth leaders of right-wing parties so I did a bit of research. According to Wikipedia, “Aron Modig was elected Chair of the KDU after the famously conservative Charlie Weimers , who repositioned KDU to become a classic bourgeois voice in Swedish politics. Game has continued to work in this direction and increased KDU presence in the media. Among other things, Brave called for a Swedish equivalent to the American Tea Party movement.”

    Angel Carromero was a member of New Generations of the People’s Party (Nuevas Generaciones, NNGG), the youth organization of the Spanish Partido Popular. It shares the same ideological platform of the PP: centre-right, according to Wikipedia.

    Idealogically, these two visitors from overseas obviously don’t understand and are fundamentally opposed to socialism and the Cuban form of government. This doesn’t mean that Oswaldo Paya Sardinas shared their views but he did make a bad choice of automobile companions for an eight-hour trip.

  • To drive 120 Km per hour on a Road in Cuba or Gravel is deadly, Carromero will land in prison as he deserves, maybe they where all together on Lunch and had also Alcohol with the meal as usual in Cuba. A Car rental in Cuba for a Car is about CUC 600.00 per week and only Dissidents and Foreigner can afford that.

Comments are closed.