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colleagues welcome him back from his “nightmare” while others show no sympathy for a Spaniard whose driver’s license was revoked in Spain and whose mission to Cuba resulted in the death of two Cuban citizens.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.)

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