“When we achieve justice we can build a new society” / 14ymedio, Ofelia Acevedo, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar

Note: The video is a brief excerpt from the interview and is not subtitled in English.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar, Miami, 22 July 2016 – His name is tattooed on the skin of a Cuban graffiti artist (Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto) or is suggested by the letter L, standing for Liberty, formed by the angle between the index finger and the thumb, increasingly displayed by those asking for democracy. The legacy of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (1952-2012) and Harold Cepero (1980-2012) lives on in the nation for which they worked their hearts out and ultimately sacrificed their lives. Four years after the tragic crash that claimed their lives, and that their families and international organizations have classified as a settling of accounts by the repressive Cuban apparatus, 14ymedio speaks with Ofelia Acevedo, widow of Payá, former president of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL).

14ymedio: A few days ago the one year anniversary of the reopening of the embassies between the United States and Cuba was celebrated. Could we be closer to justice in the case of Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá? Continue reading ““When we achieve justice we can build a new society” / 14ymedio, Ofelia Acevedo, Mario Penton, Luz Escobar”

Acevedo: The restoration of diplomatic relations has been good. It is clear that it is the Cuban government that does not continue the normal process that this rapprochement should take. On the other hand, justice is the most important step to achieve real change in the Cuban nation. To look forward in our country we need justice. The Christian tradition makes it very clear: if there is a recognition of the truth, there will be justice and forgiveness.

Once we have achieved justice we can talk about reconciliation between Cubans. We Cubans must seek it, starting by reclaiming our rights. This is a key step for the future. The greatest injustice is to deprive the Cuban people of our rights, because of this there has been so much misery and we have not progressed. Human rights are natural and inherent in the person. When we achieve justice we can build a new society, and for this it is important that this crime does not go unpunished.

14ymedio: How has the family faced the loss of your husband?

Acevedo: We are a very close family. We love each other very much and miss him so much. We live in our faith that sustains us. Our faith makes us believe that truth, justice and democracy are possible for our people. All of Oswaldo’s work is imbued with a great deal of hope, of Christian hope. That is what helps us go on in the midst of the adverse environment in which we sometimes live. Oswaldo believed greatly in the betterment of humanity and in the individual, as José Martí said. He looked for ways to give Cubans the tools to decide their future. He understood that change begins with the ability to decide. He affirmed that dialog is the only way to change Cuba, an unconditional dialog, one without exclusions and among all Cubans.

14ymedio: How do you perceive the Cuban opposition four years after the death of its most prestigious leader?

Acevedo: In Cuba there are probably more opponents than there were in Central Europe in 1989. The Cuban opposition has done a great job. We know that the government and intelligence services create moles, “construct” figures, infiltrate groups, defame and blackmail their opponents. This has existed and does exist, they are intransigents with those who don’t think like they do and who have the courage to raise their voice to express it. We Cubans who want changes have to think for ourselves and think about others, think about the Cuban people. We have to forget about egos and go where the people are to explain what are the steps for them to begin to demand their own rights, because they are the ones who should decide. We have to be with the people in this.

14ymedio: What happened to the Christian Liberation Movement after the death of Oswaldo Payá?

Acevedo: The movement received a very strong blow with the death of Oswaldo and Harold. Even before, the persecutions against them were very strong. It was the movement that had the most political prisoners and they were all exiled to Spain without the option to stay. At this time, within Cuba, the MCL is decimated, is my impression. The repression against them is very strong.

14ymedio: How was the experience of exile for your family? Will you return to Cuba?

Acevedo: My family never thought of going into exile. After Oswaldo’s murder I made the decision to go into exile for my children, because State Security was focused on my oldest son. They prevented my daughter Rosa María from starting work at a research center where she already had a place. I panicked and decided to leave because of “them” (State Security). Friends, neighbors, everyone was terrorized, because the whole world knew what had happened and that they enjoy total impunity.

I am working as a teacher and wondering when I can return to my country. I want to return to Cuba, but I hope that things improve because it costs me a lot to have to face them. My rejection of them is huge. I know I have to deal with them but it’s very difficult, because of what they are doing, what they did, how they have made my family and our people suffer.

The car in which Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá were killed four years ago
The car in which Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá were killed four years ago

Acevedo: The only meeting I had with them was a week after Oswaldo’s funeral. They called me in to ask if I was going to ask from compensation from Angel Carromero [the leader of the youth organization New Generations of the Popular Party of Madrid, who was driving the car in which Payá died and who was convicted of manslaughter). I told them I would not accept their version and I wanted to talk with the survivors. They never granted me that. The Cuban penal code does not give the victims a chance. My children were not allowed to attend the trial, which the regime had announced would be public. There was an immense repression in Bayamo [where the trial was held]. We could not carry out any legal action because a lawyer friend of the family said there was no chance to demand anything because of the criminal code.

I asked the government and the hospital for the autopsy report. They have never given it to me. I spoke to State Security, with Legal Medicine. Everyone told me that the hospital had to give me the report. The hospital administration, at six in the evening, after I did whatever paperwork was possible, told me to send it to them by mail and gave me a telephone number. The number didn’t work and we are still waiting on the autopsy. I wrote to the minister of Public Health. Rosa María tried to deliver a letter to the Cuban embassy, but they wouldn’t even let her enter the diplomatic site. Then we sent the letter in Cuba and we we had a receipt for it, but they have never answered.

14ymedio: What did Aron Modig (former leader of the Swedish Christian Democrat Party youth organization who was also in the car at the time of the crash) say about the day he Payá and Harold died?

Acevedo: Modig maintains his position. He doesn’t remember anything until reaching the hospital. It is a selective loss of memory. To me there are things that bother me sometimes in the media, because they talk about an accident, when we all know that it was a murder. A report by the international organization The Human Rights Foundation and another by physics professors at Florida International University demonstrated that it is impossible for [the crash] to have happened in the way the Cuban State says it did.

14ymedio: What legacy have Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá left?

Acevedo: The blood of freedom fighters is the seed of free men. This applies to Harold, Oswaldo, to all who have given their lives for human rights. The blood of innocent people, those who give their lives for others, is not spilled in vain. They crashed Oswaldo’s cars* when he was in the street. We keep fighting to give the Cuban people the possibility of deciding, which was Oswaldo’s fight as well. The Cuban government, in exchange, fights to destroy Cubans’ hopes.

*Translator’s note: There was a similar incident with another vehicle Oswaldo Payá was traveling in prior to the fatal crash.

See also:

Rosa Maria Paya’s Press Conference on the Crash That Killed Her Father and Harold Cepero

Angel Carromero Details Car Crash That Killed Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero

Interview with Rosa Maria Paya / Lilianne Ruiz, Rosa Maria Paya

The Political Legacy of Oswaldo Paya / 14ymedio

Human Rights Foundation suggests “Direct Responsibility of the Cuban Regime” in the death of Paya / 14ymedio

Carromero’s Courage / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Surprising Sentence for Angel Carromero for the Deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in a Car Crash / Yoani Sanchez

Roberta Jacobson Queries the Castros’ Crime / Rosa Maria Paya

Carromero’s Flesh / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo #Cuba

The phase of foul play against the exterminating Angel of the youth wing of Spain’s Ruling People’s Party will be tomorrow, October 5th, 2012

It’s rumored that his interrogators, in imitation of King Juan Carlos facing some babbling idiocy from Chavez, have forced him to remain silent and not make a fuss: “Angel, why don’t you shut up already?!”

We will see each other on the 12th in the cafe at the Spanish embassy in Havana

Before Carromero and After Carromero

Anything he says will be used against him. His biography itself accuses him: speeder with dozens of fines, entangled in matters of finance, twitterer in favor of the cuts of the Spanish government while dancing drunkenly in Seville.

Angel Carromero, in addition to being a member of a party considered fascist in Cuba (in imitation of Comandante Hugo Chavez), had his 15 minutes of infamy this first Friday of October, when he was condemned in a brief trial (according to the dictates of our Foreign Minister), where no Cuban demands anything at all from this Iberian.

It doesn’t stop drizzling in Havana lately. After the flood of more than a hundred thousand hours with Fidel, the Socialist State is mired in its transition to a Chinese-esque capitalism light, where the only thing that won’t fit well are the rights of the Cuban people, on the Island as well as in the Exile. And Angel Carromero will be a key piece in this unlikely vaudeville against all and for the evil of all. Although the coquettish prisoner from Spain’s People’s Party doesn’t imagine it on his Cuban Communist scaffold.

Only a foreign “enemy” fully immersed in “subversive activity” within the Island could be a pretext for the violent death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas. A death announced for years by paramilitaries, even in front of his own family (and foreigners, to openly disseminate the terror of such an exemplary punishment). Well then, promise kept. There are things that the Castro regime doesn’t play with. Things about which the Castro regime never lied. Those who lack the revolutionary genes to assimilate this sinister sincerity, we don’t want them, we don’t need them…

That fateful Sunday of July 22, hours after the impact and the text message in Swedish heatedly typed after the harassment, in a hospital in the provinces and without evidence of urgent intensive care, another pillar of the Christian Liberation Movement also died, Harold Cepero Escalante, who survived the crash conscious but it didn’t occur to anyone to take a declaration from him (or to allow his family to see him before he died).

Much less do we know the testimony of the ambulance attendants, forensic doctors, and the security personnel who, within minutes, seized this stretch of highway and the city of Bayamo (who alerted them that the ID card of the dead-on-impact read: Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, putative president of post-Castro Cuba?). Only some half-literate peasants declared with precision on Cuban TV that the death car was traveling at a rate of speed of more than 60 mph: “a tin can…”

That dawn, as Oswaldo Paya Sardinas left home without saying goodbye to his wife Ofelia Acevedo Maura, the apocryphal Twitterer @Yoahandry8787 had already revealed in real time his trip to the interior of the country, misrepresenting that it was an excursion to the beach in Varadero. Indeed, nearly a decade before, in the official book “The Dissidents,” we could enjoy some photos violating the privacy of the vacationing Paya-Acevedo family.

There, a teenager of 14 appears to look into an empty future while her father dives and disappears under the grayness of the sea. It was Rosa Maria. It is Rosa Maria, suddenly become, today, the new leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MLC), the principal moral voice of recrimination against all the violence of the State that corralled her citizen father from the time she was born. Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, accused before she opened her mouth of meeting false foreign tourists at the edge of the sea for a handful of euros, to fund the youth wing of the MLC.

Not one of the loved ones of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas or Harold Cepero Escalante is accusing the exterminating angel of the New Generations of the People’s Party. The State enterprise that owns the Hyundai Accent with license plate T311402 has not publicly demanded compensation for a single screw of its vehicle. Nor has any rice or forest cooperative spoken out in defense of the crops mowed down by the scars of the homicidal tree. It is a case, then, where legally no one is affected, except governmental innocence.

After the videoclip presented to the press, where a young Spanish politician asks the world not to politicize his case (filmed by the political police, but that’s a circumstantial detail), we already know Angel Carromero’s worst enemy will not be the Cuban State, but the drugged panic of Angel Carromero himself.

At the right hand of his steering wheel, like a perverse character of Perrault or the Brothers Grimm, a Social Democratic Swede snored through the nightmare under the midday sun on a pavement under repairs and a slamming on of the brakes at top speed. According to his testimony and with “European soil under his feet,” and despite his dreamlike innocence, Jens Aron Modig was also taken prisoner and held incommunicado in a windowless room, where his interrogators offended him with impunity, until they coerced him to testify against himself on camera.

From Kafka we know that justice in totalitarian systems is never interested in the Truth, this bourgeois prejudice of the Gospels. Much less in Life, this bizarre statistic. Angel Carromero, the talking cadaver, like the American Alan Gross, and countless Cubans who have been through the experience, declared like a ventriloquist that he still holds out a certain hope that he will come out safely. It’s called self-preservation and is a symptom of the mediocrity with which the old Europe of the 21st Century throws a tantrum.

In extreme situations, democracy is only for oneself. Western Christianity, then, has no neighbors. Angel Carromero wants to be Angel Carromero, even though he’s sunk in a concentration camp or humiliated in the cemetery where two human beings were plunged and disappeared under the grayness of the Sea.

The drizzle will not stop these days in Havana, before Castro and after Carromero. When this Friday the 5th what we all know and don’t know how to pronounce is finally verified, a new Cuban era in the history of the Revolution will commence. We will all be more alone, more desolate, more exposed to the paparazzi lenses that pornographically exposed his family and later expired Oswaldo Paya Sardinas.

As in the foundational good times of a cynical more than civic war, we will go quietly to survive under the obscene downpour. The free exile will be a million euros farther away than now. The pro-human rights solidarity activists will prefer to operate in any other corner of the world. The Chinese scribbles and the squeal of this collectivist language will make a little more sense to our individualistic sensibilities. The unethical etymology of the word “disappeared” will suffer a terrible updating. In a small air-conditioned room in eastern Cuba, the year zero of the Carromero cosmology is about to begin. Praise be.

Translated from the original in Diario de Cuba

October 4 2012

Statement from the Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas Family / Ofelia Acevedo

Source: Heraldoes
It has been ten days since the event which took the life of my husband, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, National Coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, and the life of the young man Harold Cepero Escalante, a member of the same movement.

The event has been covered by Cuba’s National Television, which is unusual since fatal traffic accidents occur daily in Cuba and never receive this level of media coverage.

I will not get into details regarding the technical analysis presented by the official version of the event; I am not an expert, although one does not need to be an expert to question their version. I want to clarify that I learned about how the event occurred through the television since only a brief verbal version was given to me by Major Sanchez when I received my husband’s body. I told him that I did not believe what he was saying and that I needed to talk to the surviving witnesses. I was not informed by the authorities about the death of my husband. Yesterday, July 31th at 8:45pm, 10 days after the death of Oswaldo and Harold, I was visited by two officers from the Center for Criminal Investigations and Operations carrying a subpoena that required my presence today at 11:00am, with the purpose to “clarify issues of civil liability and responsibility regarding the accident.”

As Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas’ wife and on behalf of my family living inside and outside Cuba I declare:

1.     We do not accept the explanation of the events as presented in national television because:It has been presented by the same governmental organization that under the Security of the State has sent agents threatening to kill Oswaldo multiple times over the years; they have discredited, defamed, spied, and insulted us through media campaigns inside and outside Cuba; the same individuals who have placed microphones on our bed, in our phones; the same individuals who, knowing that Oswaldo’s mother had cancer, proceeded to cowardly visit and intimidate her, who did not allow her children living outside Cuba to visit her; the same individuals who forbade my oldest son, a 24-year-old student, from visiting his aunt in Spain during his vacations last year, who do not allow any of our family members to leave or enter Cuba.

They are the same individuals who intimidate our neighbors, my husband’s co-workers, my brothers and sisters from the Christian community, and even people that we hire to make repairs in our house; they go to the institutions where my sons and daughter study or work and alert their peers to avoid relating to them; they are the same individuals who break into hospitals and intimidate doctors every time my children have any type of health problems; the same individuals who have attacked my house with mobs brought from other places and who have painted my house facade with offensive signs, who have stained my door with red paint simulating blood, who have filled the walls of the neighborhood with threatening signs and phrases packed with hate.

They are the same individuals who on several occasions have loosened the screws on the wheels of our car knowing that we were traveling with family and friends. Last June 2nd, Oswaldo and I were traveling in our car (a 1964 VW station wagon) towards my mother’s house in La Lisa. Driving through La Calzada del Cerro and having just driven across the intersection with Rancho Boyeros Avenue, we were hit by an old American car in the right rear wheel of our vehicle with such a force that it made our car rock. My husband could not control it and after sliding on the two left wheels, already on the opposite lane the car flipped, we were trapped inside and covered with broken windshield glass. Oswaldo was hurt in his left elbow and I was unhurt.

These are the same individuals who have threatened to kill members of the Movement and their families, who have imprisoned Yosvany Melchior, a young man, son of Rosa Maria Rodriguez, a member of the Movement. He is serving twelve years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Their goal is to make people abandon the Christian Liberation Movement.

…I do not believe the official version because:

2.     My husband, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was notable for his limitless sense of responsibility towards all people, especially those who associated with him. He would never have allowed the driver of the car to speed. His friends and those who know him know that I speak the truth when I say this. He knew his life was at risk every day in Cuba.

3.     Because I received the news of the alleged accident from Madrid at 3:18pm on Sunday July 22 and was told “four people were traveling but only three are in the hospital, there is no available information regarding the forth one. Two friends, one of them is unconscious. They were hit and pushed away from the road. Do you know who the other two were? One of them has disappeared.”

4.     Because I was not allowed to meet with the Swedish man and have not yet been allowed to visit the Spaniard, survivors of the event.

Because of these records and information that have reached us about what happened in the newspaper Granma, my family calls on international institutions for help demanding an independent investigation of the facts.

I’m very proud to have shared 26 years of my life with an extraordinary man, I am proud of the family we have founded. He had the sorrow of not being able to devote to his family all the time he wished, but his passion to serve always led him to work for the common good with all his intelligence and intellectual ability.

He constantly fought and searched for ways for the people to ascend to their rights, he said: “Neither the state nor the market can dominate society, or be above the people’s decisions, freedom and dignity.”

Now we must try to direct our life without the physical presence of Oswaldo, it will be very hard, but those of us who live by faith know that he will continue to protect us, and will always be in our midst.

Thank you for listening.

Havana, August 1, 2012

Translated by Cleonte