Saturday, December 29, 2012

Carromero goes home

Spanish Partido Popular activist Angel Carromero is back in Spain, having served a few months of his four-year sentence for vehicular manslaughter (El Pais).  He drove the car in which dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were killed last July near Bayamo in an apparent one-car accident. 

His return is pursuant to a 1998 agreement between Cuba and Spain that allows for nationals convicted of crimes in the other’s country to serve their sentences in their home country.  Carromero is en route to a Spanish prison and could in time be granted parole or some kind of conditional release.  Granma’s December 16 article on the transfer of Carromero says that Spain made a commitment that he would serve his sentence “in a penitentiary establishment in Spain.”

Reaction in Spain is polarized.  Carromero’s political colleagues welcome him back from his “nightmare” while others show no sympathy for a Spaniard whose driver’s license was revoked in Spain and whose mission to Cuba resulted in the death of two Cuban citizens.  Search Twitter for “Carromero” and get an earful.

Carlos Paya, Oswaldo’s brother, continues to allege that it was not a one-car accident, that a red Lada driven by Cuban government agents followed Paya’s car, rammed it, and caused the accident.  In an interview, he said that he has seen text messages to that effect from the phone of Aron Modig, the Swedish activist who was in the passenger’s seat.  He also said that the trip of Carromero and Modig was sponsored by a Swedish Christian Democratic organization.

Indeed, it is possible that Carromero will change his tune now that he is on Spanish soil.  In Cuba his account was of a one-car accident: he braked when he came upon an unpaved stretch of highway and lost control.  Modig, in interviews in Sweden, has claimed to have been sleeping and remembers nothing.  Maybe with Carromero home he too will change his tune, and those who are said to have received text messages will disclose them.  The questions that would then arise would include how they nearly reached Bayamo from Havana in eight hours after three stops, and why they would continue driving if they were being rammed by another car.

More complete background and discussion here. 

Other recent stories:

·         Ofelia Acevedo, Paya’s widow, sought to meet Carromero before he departed Cuba and presented her request to Spain’s ambassador in Havana.  The request was denied.  Carromero was transferred by Cuban police to Spanish police before departure.

·         This Spanish media report says, without sourcing, that discussions between representatives of Carromero’s family and representatives of the Cuban government resulted in a deal: a payment of $3 million (to whom, it doesn’t say) and “a promise that once on Spanish soil, Carromero will not speak about what happened in the accident.”

·         The Spanish foreign minister says that Spain “conceded nothing” to Cuba in return for Carromero’s transfer.  He noted separately that Spain supports a “flexible” interpretation of EU policy toward Cuba (the “Common Position”) that could lead to an economic cooperation agreement.

(Poster from this less-than-complimentary article, h/t Babalu.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Peters,

I am no defender of the Cuban government and do not doubt that it frequently commits human rights violations to members of the Cuban opposition.

But I believe these violations and the whole reppresive policy of the Ministry of Interior is carried out by intelligent people who are trying to act in a low key way to avoid triggering international press campaign that could affect tourist travel to the island and affect international relations.

It simply find it childish to believe that the Cuban government would attempt to drive a rented car with two well known opposition figures and two foreign political activists off the road to provoke an accident.

Nor does it make any sense for the Ministry of Interior officials who drove the car off the road to rush the two foreigners who survived the accident they provoked to the hospital so that they could recove and eventually get to testify against them.

I also believe that if the accident would have been provoked by a Ministry of Interior car, it might be possible for Modig to have been coerced into keeping this quiet while in Cuba but it would be totally illogical to expect him not to testify that this happened once he reached Sweden.

I also believe that if the evidence against Carromero was not credible and that if the legal process was not fair that the Spanish Consular officials and lawyers present would have denounced it instead of accepting its results.

We also have credible Spanish evidence that he was a very bad driver since his license was taken away a very short time ago for traffic violations.

It is also totally illogical to expect Carromero to denounce it just as soon as he arrived in Spain.

I believe Paya's family to continue insisting on Cuban government responsibility because of the trauma of his death, because he had been a frequent victim of other human right violations in the past and because Cuban government thugs might have tried to intimidate him in the past by running his car off the road in different circumstances when there were no foreign witnesses as passengers.

But it would have been stupid and childish to attempt to repeat the incident under the circumstances that were occurring when the car trip to Oriente province was made and that the Ministry of Interior officials who make such decisions are not stupid or foolhardy men.

They are quite proficient at what they do and they do not take unnecessary risks needlessly that do not offer them any possible advantages.

Their usual and more profitable modus operandi would have been to keep the car under surveillance until they could detect the opposition figures that Paya and the foreign political observers where going to visit and then at the proper moment to arrest all the participants and deport the foreigners as they have done in prior similar circumstances.

If in the next few days Carromero does not offer any declarations to the contrary to the Spanish press, it is high time for the Paya family to accept the official version of the accident.

However, Carromero should be encouraged to give his version of the events from Spanish territory because until he does the Paya family will not be able to have closure for the death of its head and it is crue to unnecessarily prolong their anguish and suffering.

Whatsmore, if his speeding and inattentive driving were responsible for the crash, he has a responsibility to publicly accept his responsibility from Spain in order to shorten the suffering of the Paya family.

This is the only human and gentlemanly course of action open to him.

The continuation of his silence on the matter from Spain would be totally counterproductive since it only lenghtens confusion, political intrigue and human suffering!

Also its time to put all this behind us so that we can concentrate on solving Cuba's problems instead of wasting our time talking about non existing issues.