Spanish Partido Popular activist Angel Carromero, 27, yesterday won conditional release from Spanish jail where he was serving out his Cuban sentence for vehicular homicide in the deaths of dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, whom he was driving last July when they had a fatal accident outside Bayamo (El Mundo).
Now perhaps he will speak about the crash and put to rest the question of whether he will stick to the version he told in Cuba – that it was a one-car accident where he came upon an unpaved stretch or road and lost control – or tell a different story. Paya’s family and associates claim that a government car followed the car that Carromero was driving, rammed it, and ran it off the road.
In other words, the issue is whether it was accident or assassination.
The other survivor in the car, Swedish political activist Aron Modig, continues to say he was asleep during the crash and has no memory of it (which is hard to square with the idea that the car was rammed several times).
Judging from Spanish press reports, Carromero may be preparing to tell a different story than the one he told in Cuba. The initial statements of Carromero’s friends who visited him in jail conformed to the one-car accident story, but in recent days they are suggesting otherwise.
Carromero’s main spokesman has been his friend Pablo Casado, a Spanish legislator. In this January 3 article from EFE, Casado relates after a jail visit that the road was under repair at the site of the accident and there were not sufficient warning signs. He asserted that “in any democracy [Carromero] would have been compensated” – presumably by the state for its negligence in failing to post adequate warning signs. On that same day Casado told AFP that Carromero was reiterating “what he already said in the trial itself – that he was going at the correct speed, there were no signs on that stretch of road, and not even the victims have held him to blame.”
In a January 4 video Casado says that Carromero was “traumatized” from his time in jail in Cuba, he “is trying to remember” exactly what happened on the day of the accident, and he wants to talk to Paya’s family.
Carromero spoke to Paya’s brother in Spain, Diario de Cuba reported January 9. Carlos Paya wished him a speedy recovery from the experience of being in a Cuban jail so that he can now “organize his ideas.” It was a three-minute conversation, Paya told El Nuevo Herald. Earlier, Paya told the Herald: “Everyone always said that when Carromero was out of Cuba the truth will be known. Well, it’s time to take off the gag.”
Then there’s this January 6 article from El Mundo, sourced to those of Carromero’s “most intimate circle” who visited him in his Segovia jail. It describes him reading newspapers, having flashbacks about the accident, remembering what happened just before, and recomposing his memory with “details that contradict the Cuban account.” One friend said, “Soon he will weigh the pros and cons of speaking out.” One visitor, Madrid Partido Popular bigwig Esperanza Aguirre, said flatly on the record, “He will talk when he gets out and gets his thoughts in order.”
Carromero’s “amnesia,” the article explains, may be due to the trauma of the accident, or to the fact that he was allegedly sedated with an unknown intravenous medication for the first 14 days of his captivity in Cuba, or to the effect of many long conversations that he is said to have had in jail with a “good cop” lieutenant colonel from Cuban intelligence.
Carromero, according to his friend Casado, is also angry about the disclosure during his pre-trial incarceration in Cuba that his Spanish driver’s license was being revoked and he wants the matter investigated (ABC, January 3). (This is a little hard to understand since the notice of his license revocation was published by Spanish municipal authorities.) Most of his infractions, Casado explained after visiting Carromero in jail in Spain, were for parking violations and were not all his, and in one speeding violation he was caught going 100 miles per hour on a Spanish highway. The effect of the disclosure, Casado says, was that from that moment Carromero’s “treatment and above all the accusation by the prosecutor changed completely,” and the “prosecutor spent half the trial talking about [Carromero’s] record in Spain.” Casado says Carromero is “absolutely innocent…he was not driving at excessive speed and he did not see any sign.”
Hopefully Carromero will decide what he truly remembers, speak to the press, and answer questions about the accident. The second-hand accounts from his political party associates add nothing definitive and are beginning to seem political, to say the least.