Carromero Changes Story on Paya Death

Claims another car rammed the vehicle

HAVANA TIMES — Angel Carromero, the rightwing Spanish politician convicted in Cuba of having caused a traffic accident in which last year killed dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, told the “The Washington Post” in an exclusive interview that the incident actually occurred when another car intentionally rammed his vehicle.

“I was afraid, but Oswaldo told me not to stop if they did not signal or force us to do so. I drove carefully, giving them no reason to stop us. The last time I looked in the mirror, I realized that the car had gotten too close — and suddenly I felt a thunderous impact from behind.

Also See: Spain Urges Carromero to go to Court

“The most important thing for me is that the Payá family always has defended my innocence, when they are the most injured by this tragedy. That’s why, when I met Rosa Maria [Payá’s daughter] this week, I could not hide the truth any more. I am not only innocent — I am another victim, who might also be dead now. I know that this decision could result in more brutal media attacks against me from Cuba, but I don’t deserve to be considered guilty of involuntary homicide, and, above all, I could not live, being complicit through my silence,” said Carromero.

Read the full Washington Post interview.

23 thoughts on “Carromero Changes Story on Paya Death

  • Check out the photo of the back of the car.

  • Sorry, but you are mistaken. He killed two people not particularly well liked by the Cuban government that did whatever was in its hands to get rid of Carromero as soon as possible, possibly to show the world that they did not have anything to hide regarding this ase.

    The prosecutor based the case in the fact that he DID had an accident that resulted in the DEATH of two people, and had all the facts to prove it as well as his confession. His reckless driving record was just additional circumstantial evidence; even if he were a a professional driver with a pristine record that made a single mistake, he was going to be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The thought that the prosecution based the case on his driver record is simply laughable, specially when it clearly shows Carromero’s disrespect for traffic law.

  • I absolutely agree that his driving record was pertinent to his court case. According to Carromero’s lawyer, the prosecution based its case mainly on the ‘reckless driver’ myth. Which is exactly why the tribunal had to REDUCE Carromero’s eventual sanction from the prosecution’s request of SEVEN to FOUR years (feel free to calculate the percentage), because the defense busted good part of that myth by presenting the hard facts instead. I’m sorry if the court didn’t consider your very strong personal opinion on Carromero.

  • BTW, I still have a problem with your maths. 50% over a speed limit of 120 is 180 Km/h, not 170.

    And in a side note, I’m all for severe punishment of novice drivers that go over the normal speed limit. To put it bluntly, they are not skilled or experienced enough to deal with unforeseen circumstances at that speed and in case of emergency they would likely kill themselves and any responsible driver in their path,

  • You are kidding right? He was driving at least 45 Km/h faster that the speed limits that applied to HIM, so by any sane definition he HAD a record of reckless driving and thats pertinent on this case. . Not to mention shows that he has a blatant disregard for traffic laws in general.

    Try a stunt like that in US or Canada and your license would be immediately revoked (you start with 4 points and earn 2 points every year up to a total of 10, 45 Km/h above his speed limit would mean between 6 and 8 point deduction, meaning that he need at least 2 full years driving without any point deduction in order to keep his license.

  • What’s your problem with my maths? The point: for 135 km/h he got the same fine other drivers get for 170 km/h on exactly the same stretch of highway. Does that one incident really make Carromero a bad or dangerous driver?

    Where I live there are no lower speed limits for novice drivers, so driving at 135 km/h on a 120 km/h highway would definitely not have “meant the immediate removal of the license”.

  • It looks like maths are not your strong point. 50% above 90 km/h is 135 km/h, and thats 15 km/h above the speed limit. If he were traveling at traffic speed (120 km/h) the police would not have a reason to stop him in the first place.

    Most countries with a point system increase the cost in points for speeding based on the severity of the offense. Over here, driving 50 km/h or more above the speed limit will hit you with an automatic 10 point loss and that means zero license for some time (years probably) and a mandatory drivers ed course before getting it reinstated.

  • Any particular reason why don’t you mention the rest of the story? The fine he got was as steep as it was due to the fact that in 2010 as a novice driver Carromero was subject to a drastically reduced speed limit of 80 or 90 kph, while the regular speed limit on that highway was 120 kph! Spain scrapped this old and unique extra speed limit for novice drivers in March 2011 for being out of touch with reality. Please tell me, in exactly which “other countries” would he have lost his license?

  • It looks like the picture wasn’t framed that way after all. I found an link in an LA Times article without the same cropping as the one posted before:

    Again, no visible scratches or bumps and back bumper still partially attached.

    A couple of extra pictures

    As you can see, the frontal part of the car did not receive any significant damage

    While the back was totaled.

    Whatever caused the accident, he got into an uncontrolled skid and made a hard right to avoid a frontal collision with the car, resulting in a direct impact to the rear where the two Cubans were. A frontal collision would have probably killed Carromero and heavily injured Modig and to less degree the the Cubans, but they would have probably survived..

    If this was a planned assassination, the main target would have been necessarily the foreign visitors. The maneuver that saved Carromero and killed the Cubans would have been very hard to predict and almost impossible to execute, so either this was an indiscriminate assault without any targets in particular or Paya was at best a secondary target.

  • Thats because Cubans don’t normally use a seat belt when driving, specially not if they are in the back seats. Besides it was a lateral impact to the rear end of the car while Carromero and Modig sat in the front seats and did wear the seat belt properly. Besides, the car seems in unusually good shape as far as Cuban cars go, so it probably still had working front air bags.

    As for scratches in the back bumper, I can’t see them in the picture even after zooming all the way (+200% .zoom). And my comment about over-sharpening still rings true, any minor scratch in the surface would result in a lot of irregular noise and I can’t see anything of the sort in the bumper.

    And BTW, the bumper is not in the ground, it looks at the same level it should be in the car (notice that the right side of the bumper still in the correct position). Is just that the person taking the picture frame it that way.

  • There are several scratches on the rear bumper which appears to be lying on the ground at the bottom of the picture. There is nothing in the photograph inconsistent with the scenario now described by Carromero.

    It is very odd that two people (both Cubans) would be killed in a car crash while the other two (non-Cubans) were unscratched. Carromero stated that Paya was alive when he was taken from the car.

  • While at it, the 2010 ticket was worth 6 points of the 8 the Spanish licenses have. In order to get one, you need to go at least 50% over the speed limit and get caught. That single incident earned him a fine of 510 euros but in other countries it would have meant the immediate removal of the license.

  • Sorry, but there is no room for interpretation in this particular case. What you see at the bottom right corner of the license plate is clearly a sun reflection in a surface slightly slanted up. To the right of the sun reflection in the same surface you can see a portion of the sky with some canopy shadows while to the left is mostly tree shadows.

    The back of the trunk is mostly perpendicular to the camera and you can see mostly tree shadows to both sides and a portion of sky in the middle area around the Hyundai logo.

    Now pay a careful attention to the back bumper. What I see is exactly the same: a sun reflection in the middle area surrounded by a portion of sky and tree canopy shadows at either end. The only visible damage is a slight deformation in the left side due to the damage from a collision from slightly from the left and opposite to the car travel direction and consistent to whatever cause the damage in the back seat area shown in the picture.

    Additionally, you can see the same sky reflection at both ends of horizontal surfaces of the bumper and what you see is consistent with the shadow pattern in the rear portion of the bumper (a portion of sky with tree shadows to the left of the bumper in the surface pointing up while mostly shadows pointing back in the undamaged right portion of the bumper and a portion of the sky continued into the back surface in the slightly slanted up portion of the damaged left portion of the bumper).

    As I said, the picture does not have a good quality, but the over-sharpening that was applied will exaggerate any micro-contrast in the scene (see pebbles to the left, trunk key area, logo and text). In this situation, any scratch the car painting will literally jump at you, yet you can’t see any damage whatsoever to the back bumper and trunk area.

    The bottom line is that If the picture was actually taken from car Carromero was driving as seems to be the consensus, there is zero evidence of a high speed collision from the back in that picture.

    Objectively speaking thats not enough to dismiss a second car causing the accident by simply scaring Carromero in a wild chase with Carromero losing control, but in that case Modig would not be possibly sleeping as he said he was. Besides, both Carromero and Modig did had cell phones, probably Paya too. How difficult would have been taking a picture of the chasing car just to show to the word how the evil Cuban government harass the dissidence?

    Sorry, but this does not line up. As I said before, show me some evidence and I’ll reconsider my position, in the mean time Carromero is simply lying to take advantage of the situation. And yes, you are innocent until proven guilty, but he was already proven guilty in a trial deemed fair by his own (Spanish) lawyer and under supervision of the Spanish consulate.

  • That Cuban State Security would NOT have monitored and closely followed the car with Payá and company seems extremely unlikely to me. That not a single DSE officer should have witnessed Payá’s trip is incredible, to say the least. That the official State Security twitter team (Yohandry8787) reported Payá’s leaving Havana that very Sunday morning is a well-documented fact. Independent of the degree of political danger that Payá posed as an individual figure, I believe the main objective State Security was interested in was to disrupt the international assistance to the internal opposition and to deter future would-be supporters travelling to Cuba. Well-intentioned foreigners (not only young politicians) hoping to express their solidarity with human rights defenders on the island will have taken note that their contacts with dissidents are not welcome and incur a high risk. Don’t focus only on Payá — the fact that Carromero and Modig were in fact paraded by the Cuban authorities as criminal offenders that could easily have been locked away for 15 years (think of Alan Gross) is just as important to Raúl Castro’s goverment as an outcome of the potentially provoked accident as Payá’s and Cepero’s death, which may or may not have been planned the way it happened.

    PS: Carromero’s driving record does NOT speak for itself, Michael, it was extremely misrepresented in the media. Try to stick to the hard facts, not the distortions. What it boils down to is that he had a single speeding ticket dating from 2010, and the only other relevant driving offense which finally led to the loss of his remaining credit points was for speaking once on his mobile phone while driving (plus dozens of parking tickets). He was certainly not a notoriously negligent driver.

  • AC, I guess we see what we want to see. What you call sun reflections I see as markings which may be the result of bumper-to-bumper contact. Keep in mind that at high speeds on bad road it would not take much to send a car out of control. My theory is that maybe the plan was not to kill but only to scare. Some ‘guajiro’ state security agent thought he could just bump the Paya car to give him a scare. Unfortunately, Carromero lost control and the tragedy ensued.

  • Sorry, but thats bollocks. As is the case with ALL opposition members, he had zero influence within Cuba. His best achievement -the Varela project- took a painfully long time to gather the meager 11000 signatures he manage to collect and the response of the government was immediate and devastating: a constitutional referendum approved by a HUGE margin of the population effectively closing the window of opportunity that the project used and making government change unconstitutional.

    After that, he never managed to do anything worth mentioning and the only reason he wasn’t imprisoned in the black spring isn’t any fictional political muscle, it was because as opposed as the other dissidents that made of its political position a profession he kept at least a front of honesty and at least earned his own living by actually working.

    In any case don’t trust my words, trust the diplomatic cables released by wikileaks:

    “In the years before Payá’s death, his influence was said to be waning, and attention shifted to younger activists such as blogger Yoani Sanchez. In 2010, WikiLeaks released US State Department cables from Jonathan D. Farrar, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, describing Payá and other older dissidents as “hopelessly out of touch”, writing, “They have little contact with younger Cubans and, to the extent they have a message that is getting out, it does not appeal to that segment of society.”

    And sorry about your conspiracy theory, but even if such things as government assassinations happened in Cuba (there is no evidence whatsoever that that is the case, the Cuban government is sly enough to play by the rules) a minion would not have the power to make a call on the matter, specially if it involves foreign activists as potential witness and regardless of the outcome is going to draw unwanted international suspicion.

    Besides, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to use something as visible as a car to carry on the actual assassination, when a small device planted on the brake system and detonated remotely would have all of them discretely killed and they could remove all traces as part of the official investigation.

    Also, Carromero conventionality forgot to mention that he had consular access during the whole trial so even the faintest smell of foul play would have been impossible to contain by the Cuban authorities.

    Sorry, but the evidence points that Carromero is guilty and he is just lying to get back in the political game. Show me the evidence that he is right and I’ll reconsider my position and condemn the Cuban government, but as things stand this is just the result of an accident caused by a fool with a crappy driving record while speeding in an unfamiliar place under poor road conditions.

  • Have you ever driven the road where the accident occured–between Bayamo and Las Tunas? It is very lightly traveled because it is in wretched shape. It may seem like a short-cut in for driving either back towards the western end of the island, or towards Santiago, but in reality it is not. Sometimes Mapquest plots a route on these secondary roads that lead to disaster. For example, an elderly couple here in Vermont were sent over little-traveled mountain roads, although they were the most direct route. This resulted in them being found the following Spring, when the snows finally melted. They were both quite dead. It is pretty obvious Carromero is making excuses–and fabrications–for his negligence. His driving record speaks for itself.

  • Paya was not completely harmless, he did not get imprisoned during the black spring because he had political muscle to be left alone at the time. I interviewed him a couple of years ago, and witnessed how he was watched on every turn he took, not exactly the impression of a low political target. That said, I don’t think this was a pre-planned assassination, I think this was a low-level screw up, some local official thought they would get extra points getting rid off Paya even if unauthorized and in the aftermath the cuban authorities were left to clean up the mess best they could. Framing Carromero was their best option, end of story.

  • You’re quick to judge, read the full story on Washington Post…

  • PD: I found the picture taken from the rear of the crashed car the day of the accident:

    The resolution is far from ideal, but I can’t see a single scratch in the rear bumper, just sun reflections. The only damage I see is from a side impact from the opposing direction, and congruent with the damage to the impact from the left with the tree, Where is the damage to the rear bumper you mention in your post?

  • Not really. What else do you expect Carromero to say? Lying by its teeth is the only way he has to get back in track in his career as politician and keep living at expense of the Spanish people, and the Cuban government is a always a good target to shift the blame in the public opinion.

    I saw the car pictures and didn’t found the kind of damage to be expected from a rear collision and never heard of any eyewitness seeing another car, besides the poor condition of the road where the accident took place would make the driver of said car to lose control as well regardless of their skill.

    The only “evidence” comes from Paya’s family weird affirmations made 800 km from the place and the mysterious SMS that didn’t came from neither Modig or Carromero, but from someone else outside of Cuba and didn’t had a reason to hide or delete it. Besides, I recall some dissidents sending someone to the place the same day and confirming the official record.

    As for the Cuban government assassinating Paya, even if were true there was no need whatsoever of doing it in front of foreign eyewitness, and even if it comes to that, they could have easily killed both Carromero and Modig while in transit to the hospital and removed the evidence or at the very least prevent Carromero from leaving the country and creating an “accident” in prison.

    And if the state security is so good as to know about his driving record in Spain with enough time to plan and execute the assassination and frame him in the short time since his arrival, they would be good enough to not leave open ends. Add that Paya was completely harmless (he wasn’t even imprisoned as part of the black spring) and didn’t represent any immediate threat to the Cuban government and I don’t see a reason to having killed that desperately.

    So, paint me skeptic, but I simply don’t believe his words. Give me evidence enough to prove him innocent of the charges and I’ll consider the conspiracy theory seriously. Until then, the only thing he has accomplished so far is the death of two Cuban dissidents and possibly the scraping of the treaty with Spain that allowed him to serve his sentence time over there.

  • This change of story is just too laughable for comment. What a slimy, Iago-like creature!

  • Many of the frequent commenters to this site were so willing to accept the official Cuban version of events should revisit this issue. All along, there were always too many unanswered questions. The damage done to the rear bumper, the eyewitnesses who saw another car leaving the scene and the tweets received? The Spanish driver was the perfect patsy as well. With a bad driving record in Spain, he was ideal to accept the blame. Now the question is from how far up the food chain did the order to murder Paya and the others come? Did Raul himself order the death of a fellow citizen or do others have the authority to do this? AC, I would welcome you comment here.

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