Widow of Cuban Dissident Appeals for Outside Investigation Into His Death
Cuban Ofelia Acevedo, widow of dissident Oswaldo Paya, who died in
unclear circumstances, asked that an international investigation be
opened to know the truth about her husband’s death.
Married in 1986 in the parish Del Cerro, she has three children, aged
26, 25 and 22. She has now left Cuba and fears for her life. “We have
suffered all sorts of repressions, threats, vigilance, and interference
in our family life,” she tells ZENIT in this interview, adding that she
is “a member of the Coordinating Council of the Christian Liberation
* * *
ZENIT: Where are you living now?
–Ofelia Acevedo: At present I‘m living with my children in the United
States. A year ago I had to leave my country as a political refugee. On
July 22, 2012, the State Security in Cuba, pursued with its cars the car
in which my husband was traveling, taking it off the highway and
obliging the driver to stop. The next day they announced that my husband
died in a traffic accident. They began immediately again the threats and
following of my children.
Since then, I am determined to try to initiate an investigation
independent of the Cuban government (it must necessarily be outside of
Cuba), to clarify the circumstances of his death and of the young man
Harold Cepero who was accompanying him on the trip. We have reasons and
evidence for it.
ZENIT: What is the present situation in Cuba and of its citizens? How do
–Ofelia Acevedo: In the main, Cuba today is a poor country. Cubans, and
I’m referring to ordinary Cubans, suffer great material and spiritual
want. A great many of them survive economically thanks to the existing
corruption. Cubans cannot develop a plan for their lives, because in my
country any private initiative can be declared illegal when the
Government so wishes. They live submerged in a culture of fear and the
social differences are enormous. Those with political power have all the
rights and all the resources; they are hugely rich while the great
majority of the people have nothing or almost nothing.
–Ofelia Acevedo: There is a grave situation of violation of human
rights in Cuba, and there are no prospects of a solution, precisely
because the government itself doesn’t recognize the problem and feels
attacked by the simple mention of the subject.
There is no freedom of expression or free access to the Internet or the
media, which is totally controlled by the State, although the people pay
for them. Any independent manifestation for freedom of expression is
controlled and can be punished by long years in prison. Education is
controlled by the State. The health system is precarious. People don’t
have mobility because of the lack of transport and unreachable prices.
It is difficult to be able to feed the family every day, although the
greatest discrimination is the political. For people who don’t submit to
the control of the group that has the power, it is as if they didn’t exist.
ZENIT: How do Cubans who live on the Island see the Church? And those
who have had to leave the country?
–Ofelia Acevedo: Wherever citizens aren’t free, one cannot speak of
true religious freedom. The Church pilgrimaging in Cuba is part of our
people, which it has served evangelizing, educating, helping the poor,
the sick, prisoners and their families. For years the Church has endured
and endures the regime’s interference, repression, contempt, control and
attempts to de-Christianize our culture.
ZENIT: Is it true that the Government is promoting some reforms? Which ones?
–Ofelia Acevedo: The Cuban regime has failed as a political system. As
ever, the Government must be maintained with the economic aid of other
countries or Governments that are more or less akin.
The so-called “Raul’s changes” undertaken by the regime, marking a
difference with its predecessor in power, are reforms of some laws. The
most important, for those who live inside, is the Migratory Reform,
because to flee the country has been the way of salvation, which Cubans
have pursued, to free themselves from their distressing reality. The
other most trumpeted reform is the new law on foreign investment, which
gives facilities to foreign merchants to establish businesses with the
Government. Oswaldo Paya called these bit by bit reforms, dressed as
changes, “Fraudulent Changes,” because in reality they consist in
legitimizing and consolidating the most merciless inequality,
guaranteeing the privileges of the powerful and their new rich status,
while the regime insists that it will not implement political changes or
be open to rights. And we all know that economic reforms have never
brought rights and freedom.
ZENIT: Is a process of democratization possible?
–Ofelia Acevedo: Yes, a process of democratization is possible, as a
consequence of a process of liberation that can take place through
strength of spirit and solidarity, the only thing capable of overcoming
the culture of fear which for years has reduced the individual and the
society to defenselessness and impotence.
The Christian Liberation Movement (CLM) has worked and works inside and
outside of Cuba, together with a great part of the Opposition, to
achieve real changes towards freedom and rights. The legal initiative
with the referendum of the Varela Plan, has been and is up to now the
greatest citizen mobilization in favor of fundamental rights, made
concrete by the Cuban people. The CLM has a rich history of concrete
projects developed with the citizens, helping them exact through
peaceful ways their fundamental rights. On May 10, 2006, Oswaldo Paya
presented to all Cubans, on behalf of the Coordinating Council of the
Christian Liberation Movement, a political plan based on the Social
Doctrine of the Church, the program “All Cubans,” which is a viable
political alternative to begin the changes towards democracy. It was
elaborated with the contributions of thousands of Cubans who live inside
and outsider of Cuba, who worked with much love to elaborate it.
ZENIT: What message do you think it is important to give?
–Ofelia Acevedo: That it be recognized that we, Cubans, have a right to
rights, that we want to live in peace, in the lovely land that God gave
us. We want to live without fears, without exclusions, without lies. We
want to be able to participate freely and democratically in political
decisions that affect our lives and those of our families. We must all
rebuild with our effort and ingenuity our destroyed country. We, Cubans,
are also human beings and we want to count on the solidarity and
fraternity of people of good will around the world. Support the Cuban
Source: “Widow of Cuban Dissident Appeals for Outside Investigation Into
His Death | ZENIT – The World Seen From Rome” –