Truth and freedom in Cuba
Other voices: Truth and freedom in Cuba
POSTED: 10/26/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT
The other day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba’s state-run
newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He
lavished praise on an editorial in The New York Times that called for an
end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint:
The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the
still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo
Paya, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.
The assertion that Cuba’s authoritarian government had yet to explain
the deaths was “slanderous and 1/8a3/8 cheap accusation,” Mr. Castro
So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still
lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long
past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what
happened on an isolated Cuban road on July 22, 2012. So far, there has
been only a crude attempt at cover-up and denial.
We know something about what happened, thanks to the eyewitness account
of Angel Carromero, the young Spanish politician who was at the wheel of
the rental car that was carrying Mr. Paya and Mr. Cepero to a meeting
with supporters. Mr. Carromero, who visited Washington last week, told
us the car was being shadowed by Cuban state security from the moment it
left Havana. He said his conversations with Mr. Paya as they traveled
were mostly about the Varela Project, Mr. Paya’s courageous 2002
petition drive seeking to guarantee democracy in Cuba. Many of Mr.
Paya’s supporters in the project were later arrested and imprisoned.
After the wreck, Mr. Carromero was pressured by the Cuban authorities to
describe it as an accident caused by his reckless speeding. But he
reiterated to us last week that what really happened is that the rental
car was rammed from behind by a vehicle bearing state license plates.
Mr. Carromero showed us photographs of the damaged car, damage that
seemed inconsistent with a wreck caused by speeding. But the precise
details of what happened are unknown and need to be cleared up by a
credible investigation. Mr. Paya’s family has sought one for two years,
without success. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of
the Organization of American States sent a query to Cuba about the case,
they got no answer. Nothing.
The U.S. embargo has been substantially relaxed in recent years to allow
hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine exports, in
addition to consumer goods supplied to Cubans by relatives in this
country. The question is whether a further relaxation is merited. The
regime’s persecution of dissidents is unceasing; it continues to
imprison American Alan Gross on false charges. While Cuba has toyed with
economic liberalization and lifted travel restrictions for some, we see
no sign that the Castro brothers are loosening their grip. Fully lifting
the embargo now would reward and ratify their intransigence.
A concession such as ending the trade embargo should not be exchanged
for nothing. It should be made when Cuba grants genuine freedom to its
people, the goal cherished by Mr. Paya.
— The Washington Post
Source: Other voices: Truth and freedom in Cuba – TwinCities.com –