Spain Urges Carromero to Go to Court…

… if he has new evidence in the Payá case

HAVANA TIMES — Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo urged Angel Carromero today to go to court if he has “new evidence” on the accident in which Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya died, and for which he was sentenced in October as the driver.

García-Margallo spoke after Carromero said in an interview published on Wednesday by “The Washington Post” that the accident occurred when a vehicle he was driving was intentionally rammed from behind.

Besides Paya, another opposition member, Harold Cepero, also died in the crash that occurred last July.

The Spanish government “has no evidence” that things happened differently than Carromero himself said at his trial in Cuba, said Garcia-Margallo. If he has other information, “he should go to court,” he noted.

The Spanish foreign minister repeated what he had said on Wednesday, that the memorandum of understanding signed with the Cuban authorities allowed Carromero’s repatriation to Spain to serve the rest of the sentence that was imposed in Cuba.

This document, which was signed with the consent of Carromero, a young politician of the Popular Party (PP), did not reflect what Carromero said to “The Washington Post”.

Carromero was sentenced in October by a Cuban court to four years in prison for manslaughter for “reckless behavior.” The young man was extradited to Spain in December to serve the remainder of his sentence at home, following an agreement between Madrid and Havana based on a bilateral agreement on the enforcement of criminal sentences.

Carromero is serving his sentence in Spain in “open regime”, controlled electronically via a bracelet.



19 thoughts on “Spain Urges Carromero to Go to Court…

  • Your line of argument is schizophrenic: One moment you stress the very political nature of the Payá/Carromero case, the next you deny it. Take a deep breath and please make up your mind. You conveniently blow up Carromero’s political importance in Spain, but at the same time you find it impossible even to imagine that in Cuba, he and Spanish diplomacy could have been a lot more interested in getting him out safe and soon rather than in provoking a ‘complicated’ political scandal on Payá — which would have meant putting at risk not only your big career politician leader’s future but also Spain’s important political and economic interests on the island and beyond.

    You find Carromero’s parole illegal under Spanish law and a gross violation of the agreement with Cuba — but strangely, no legal complaint has been filed by any of Carromero’s many Spanish opponents, nor by Cuba. You know full well that access to evidence in Cuba was under exclusive control of the Cuban government and you should know about the non-existing separation of powers in their political and legal system, at the same time you assert that an independent investigation into what evidence we are actually talking about is not needed — while paradoxically asking for evidence…???

    Returning to the topic of the HT article above, if you believe Margallo is being 100% honest in his current position on Cuba/Payá/Carromero that constitutes a 180-degree turnaround from his long-held positions of principle before he got the job as Foreign Minister, you are very far from convincing anybody. You have the last word, go ahead.

  • You are either being intentionally obtuse or lack critical thinking skills. It doesn’t matter the absolute rank he has as a career politician, he was supposedly a leader of the new generations somewhere and had enough rank to serve of pawn in the game with the opposition in Cuba. Not to mention that in your own link you can easily see the political muscle that made possible his record-breaking trial and expulsion.

    And is common practice that you lose your job if a criminal offense put you between bars and prevents you from actually working. In his case, his job was used as a pretext to put him in “tercer grado”. And even after posting the exact reference you are still misrepresenting his case: reckless driving causing death or permanent injury in Spain is a crime punished with 1 to 4 years in jail. Repeating the same misleading assertions over and over won’t change that annoying little fact.

    Your point 4 is laughable. Not only extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Carromero had consular support in all stages of the process and the trial was deemed fair by the Spanish counterpart, meaning that they considered the evidence presented valid and enough to get him convicted of the charges.

    He is now claiming that he was lying under oath in the trial and he was in fact innocent. As you know, lying under oath is a traditionally serious crime (in fact is one of the ten commandments) and destroys any credibility he may have at this point, but more importantly is not nearly enough to restore his presumption of innocence.

    Basically, he is accusing the Cuban government of murdering Paya and staging a fake trial, so the burden of the prof rests squarely in his shoulders. He is the one who has to present the evidence in order to prove his case and until said evidence is validated, the Cuban government should be considered innocent of the charges in the same way he was considered innocent until the court examined the evidence and found him guilty.

    And remember, I’m talking about factual evidence independently verifiable because as I said before, what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence and he claims the Cuban government carried a political assassination so I’m expecting solid evidence, not common gossip.

    Your sixth point had some merit if Carromero was prevented from contacting the Spanish consulate, but that wasn’t the case. And Cuba would not allow said contact unless they were 100% sure Carromero would back their own version, otherwise they risked a high profile assassination scandal that would have complicated the case (at the very least, Spain would have insisted in an independent investigation).

    And of course, once you confess the charges, you either learn to live with it or find the evidence to clear your name. Or as the article said, either show the evidence or shut the ** off.

    Right now his unsupported declarations are risking an invalidation of the extradition treaty with Cuba that benefited him and with it other fellow Spaniards currently serving sentences in Cuban prisons. And what if Cuba demands a revision of the sentence adding the lie under oath and contempt to court charges? What do you think Spain would do in that case?

  • 1. If number three at the regional Madrid level and number one at neighbourhood level of the youth organisation of a political party for you makes him a leader of that obviously Spanish organisation “in Spain” and a career politician, we disagree. As for his party’s support, I was referring to Carromero’s present battle and the PP’s position as illustrated by the article right above this comments section.

    2. You were asking me to quote your lie: “he got a well payed council advisor job in order to get him released”. Of course, before losing a public sector job in any civilised country A for a conviction in country B they would need to consider the relative seriousness of the offence under country A’s laws: not even jail (see point 3 above).

    3. Again, neither was there a retrial nor any need for it in order for the convict to be granted open-regime detention (“tercer grado”). Of course, the Cuban government was aware of the conditions for “tercer grado” in the Spanish penal system at the time of signing the handover agreement.

    4. …And vice versa, the only incriminating evidence came from the very authorities that had always treated Payá, his organisation and his international supporters as enemies of Cuba, in the clear absence of any form of independent judiciary.

    5. What kind of “control” do you mean? And to what end? Her father spent a lifetime communicating with the outside world. She and her family had been speaking with international journalists in Havana, saying the same things she now tells international journalists in Madrid.

    6. So you are saying they now monitor opposition leaders without actually following them? Hm. But since you mention the gravity of the two Europeans’ crime of meeting with dissidents in the Cuban goverment’s POV: When Carromero was faced with the tough choice of either cooperating in a quick trial about a traffic accident including the hope for a swift extradition OR face accusations of acting as a secret foreign agent with the potential of a much harsher punishment, what was the reasonable thing to do?

    At the end of the day, we have nothing more then two opposition activists dead after a car crash, and we have the two survivers and the victim’s family not supporting the government-issued version. And “a sane person” must not take their allegations seriously?

    I doubt that Carromero and Rosa María Payá will manage to start any real “assassination scandal” as long as the Cuban and Spanish governments stand firmly united on the issue. Still, it’s quite interesting to see how far people like García-Margallo and the rest of the PP have recently changed their position towards what Payá stood for and towards the Cuban government — always in the best national interest of Spain…

  • 1. I’m not the one calling him “Leader of the new generations wing of the PP”, thats how about EVERY single news source call him. And as far as I know, Madrid is the capital of Spain, so he certainly was no leader in Sweden.

    As for not receiving political support you are demonstrably wrong. He got released from Cuba in record time, in contrast the other guy that was released with him already served the first three years of his sentence for drug trafficking in Cuba. Also he got his old, publicly funded job back regardless of being a convicted felon technically serving a four year sentence, regardless of the political impact to the counselor he is advising. Don’t you think that requires some serious backing?

    2. I don’t take kindly being told I’m a liar so either mind your words or post the evidence I’m lying if you want a civil debate. I just quoted the exact words elpais used to report the issue, if you think they are wrong complain to them. Also, four years in jail for a criminal offense resulting in death is usually more than enough to get someone fired from a public position (or any job really).

    3. You obviously do not understand that the offense happened in Cuba and Cuban laws are the one applying in this case. The agreement is for serving the sentence in the home country, not for a retrial according to the local laws, so your point is moot.

    As for the electronic tag being a breach in the agreement, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t said for sure, but according with Cuba law you must serve at least 1/3 of your jail sentence before being eligible to a different mode. So, yes, it looks like at the very least they are breaking the spirit of the agreement.

    4. I don’t have a problem with an independent investigation, my point is that the only “evidence” of foul play came from tainted sources (declarations from the perpetrator itself) and is not backed by existing evidence (like the pictures of the car wreck).

    Same thing with alleged death threats from the victim: do you have any evidence of said threats besides Paya own words? Don’t you think that a professional dissident would have the means to record the threats and use that evidence to reinforce his case?

    5. Not exactly. If the government would have something to hide, it would have at least tried to keep her inside of the country in a position where they have control of her actions. They didn’t, so they risked any damage she could do unchecked and that means they didn’t have any nefarious thing to hide or that they are confident they can prove their innocence on this matter.

    6. Monitoring Carromero and Modig trip is a prerogative of the Cuban government and there is nothing particularly wrong with it. From their POV, both of them were foreign agents that went to Cuba with the wrong visas to stir trouble and promote government change, so is their duty to know about their whereabouts.

    But regardless of your opinion, two inexperienced agents traveling with a waning dissident figure does not require constant monitoring because regardless of their actions they would be a negligible threat to Cuban interests. Not to mention that they probably already knew where they were going and with who they were going to meet.

    As for your last point, you answer it yourself. If they wanted to make an example they could have simply arrested both foreigners with charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government, confiscate all the assets in their possession and deport them after a short while in prison to give them a taste of what they are risking.

    That would be totally legal under international law and would achieve the same goal of discouraging this behavior in the future without the potential implications of an assassination scandal. So, yes, get back to your tinfoilery if it makes you happier, but a sane person would require a little more before taking those allegations seriously.

  • CORRECTION: (re: 1.) Carromero was not number two in the Nuevas Generaciones hierarchy at the Madrid regional level, but never actually more than number THREE behind the regional chapter’s president and the secretary general. Carromero was deputy secretary general. The only organisation of which he was ever a genuine political leader was the NNGG club of his local city borough of Salamanca.

  • 1. You make him a “Leader of the New Generations youth wing of the PP in Spain” when in fact he was (at best) number two at NNGG’s regional chapter of Madrid! Not a leader “in Spain”, not even a board member of NNGG at the national level. In my understanding, a “career politician leader” would not only be known to more people than his local party youth mates, but at least be elected to maybe his first minor public office on a regional if not national level. Once again: Not only the general public and the opposition parties are now strongly against him, he receives absolutely no sign of political support even from within his own party that I am aware of (save for retired loose cannon Aguirre and to a much lesser degree AC’s role-model friend Pablo Casado). No lone outcast can expect to start a political career simply by declaring himself a hero, if that’s what you suggest.

    2. First you lied about him getting his job “in order to be released” as if he had ever lost it, now you suggest AC should never have been allowed to keep his long-held job (which didn’t require any formal qualifications, whether we like it or not). But on what reasonable legal grounds should he have been fired? The public hate campaign against him? Please!

    3. I didn’t say the crime didn’t exist in Spain, only that you don’t go to prison under comparable circumstances: Carromero’s Cuban sentence came to four of a maximum of ten years (40 %). Get the same percentage of your Spanish law’s maximum of four years (that is less than two years) and you don’t have to serve your sentence in prison but walk free on probation — you don’t even get an electronic tag! As for your weird suggestion that AC’s electronic tagging constitutes a breach of the Spanish-Cuban agreement: The agreement logically includes that repatriated convicts serve their sentence according to established rules of their HOME state’s penal system. There was and will be no retrial, much less a Cuban claim of any breach of legal agreement.

    4. If dissidents are not the only people suffering strange accidents, does that mean that there can be absolutely no reason to investigate independently? Does it not matter if the victim has a history of death threats and if the authorities explicitly branded him a public enemy?

    5. Rosa María Payá’s trip is irrelevant. She and her mother said the same things already in Havana, and the international reaction was just as minimal as it is now, even with AC’s and Modig’s statements on the record. Had the Cubans kept preventing her from travelling (like they had been consistently until the travel reform came into effect) they would have raised more suspicion than by letting her go. That she is now free to travel like (almost) everybody else was no news. Nobody is interested in Oswaldo Payá’s death any more. People like you have been very successful in spreading and repeating lies and half-truths about the case since July.

    6. The Payá family’s pronouncements as such have no legal weight — at least as long as they cannot even present the Spanish judiciary with a sworn statement by Carromero affirming his original version of being hit by another car and explaining what or who made him lie while in Cuba. We’re talking about reasonable doubt as grounds for an independent investigation to come up with verifiable or at least credible answers to unanswered questions raised by a number of people involved (or quoted). That Payá’s and the two Europeans’ trip should NOT have been monitored by state security agents remains quite incredible, for starters. Not only given the unexplained fact that state security publicly reported his leaving Havana on Twitter that very Sunday at dawn. ( Do you think Cuban state security would be THAT incompetent and irresponsible?

    If everything is so far beyond any doubt, shouldn’t it be the Cuban government’s position to promote the idea of an independent international investigation? If only to expose the maliciousness of the internal opposition and their ‘fascist’ backers abroad, once and for all? Not with cheap rhetoric or dubious videos of statements made under threat of a long jail sentence but with credible facts. In the absence of government cooperation, it may very well be impossible to come up with any proof either way. I’m not saying it must have been a planned assassination, just that too many points don’t add up.

    BTW, in Germany, some perfectly unsuspicious fatal car accidents were only years later found out to have been likely political assassinations once the remnants of the former GDR’s state security archives became accessible, yielding some surprising documents. There is no convincing reason to assume that the experts at Cuba’s MININT would never have used similar methods like the ones practiced and shared by their East German Stasi colleagues — who for decades were close collaborators of Cuban state security.

    Should all of this reek too much of wacky conspiracy theory, just return for a moment to my earlier suggestion that, whatever really happened that 22 July, a central mid- to long-term objective of the Cuban government was definitively achieved by exposing, parading and scaring away foreign supporters of the Cuban opposition — like Modig, Carromero and dozens of mainly unidentified volunteers before them. More and repeated public debate about potential state security involvement in the Payá case only serves to underline the danger awaiting anybody brave or foolish enough to provoke state security by meeting with dissidents while visiting Cuba on a tourist visa. We all know (and both young Europeans were no doubt forcefully reminded while under arrest) that under Cuban law, this can lead you to jail for much longer than four years. For its international image, the Cuban government clearly has no interest in actually applying its existing draconian laws against the opposition. They still remember the worldwide and enduring political backlash of Fidel’s 2003 Black Spring overreaction to political pressure. To Raúl Castro, Carromero and Modig are far more useful in Europe talking freely about their traumatic experience as uncovered foreign agents. Which proves nothing, but still makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *