EFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 7 March 2023 — A group of bipartisan senators, led by Democrat Dick Durbin, sent a letter to Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to “accelerate the progress of the investigation into the murder” of Cuban opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.
The group includes Senators Marco Rubio (Republican, Florida), Tim Kaine (Democrat, Virginia), Bill Cassidy (Republican, Louisiana), Bob Menéndez (Democrat, New Jersey), Ted Cruz (Republican, Texas), Ben Cardin (Democrat, Maryland) and Mark Warner (Democrat, Virginia).
“We are writing to you to request an update of the investigation into the suspicious and tragic death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in 2012. In the more than 10 years since his car fatally left a Cuban road, little or nothing has been done to punish those responsible,” begins the letter dated this Monday, March 6.
Payá’s family denounced from the first moment that it was an attack in which another vehicle intervened and, in 2013, along with Cepero’s family, filed the complaint with the IACHR, which has taken nine years to convene the first public hearing, although it has had the information of the case for a long time.
“We continue to believe,” the letter adds, “that, even without the cooperation of the Cuban Government, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is the most appropriate body to carry out this necessary investigation and accountability. We are concerned about the persistent delays in this effort.”
On December 13, 2021, in an interview with EFE on the eve of the first hearing of “case 9,416” before the IACHR, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the Cuban opponent Oswaldo Payá, stressed that an acknowledgment — and condemnation — by the organization of the responsibility of the Cuban State in the crash in which her father and Harold Cepero lost their lives in 2012 would be “very important” for the families.
“Payá’s work, the sustained threats against him and the key circumstances of the day he died are well documented,” the senators say in their letter.
“The Commission has shown from previous investigations, such as the 2019 High-Level Commission on Nicaragua, that it can carry out its critical work even if the State in question does not cooperate,” the letter reads.
It also adds that “investigations such as that of Payá’s death bring to light not only human rights problems of the past, but also help deter new acts of repression,” the senators wrote in the official communication from the office of Senator Durbin, a democrat for the state of Illinois.
According to the American politicians, “the Payá family and the lawyers of the R.F. Kennedy Center filed the lawsuit with the IACHR more than 9 years ago and have been updating the Commission with all the evidence discovered during this time.”
According to a statement from Senator Durbin’s office, “in 2002 Payá initiated the Varela Project that sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a campaign of peaceful petition and a referendum process, as allowed by the Cuban Constitution.”
“The Cuban government not only rejected the historical effort and blatantly changed the constitutional provision that allowed such a public method for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement,” the statement emphasizes.
“The members of the Organization of American States and the international community expect protection, accountability and justice from the Commission. Therefore, provide us with a timely update on the ongoing and future efforts in the Payá case,” the senators asked Reneaum Panszi.
For the crash in which Payá and Cepero lost their lives, the driver of the vehicle, the Spanish conservative politician Ángel Carromero, was convicted in Cuba and sentenced to four years in prison in Cuba for reckless driving resulting in death. Most of his sentence was served in Spain after the governments of both countries agreed to his return.
Carromero was driving the car without a valid permit in Spain, since he had run out of points after accumulating 42 traffic violations, as revealed by the newspaper El Mundo.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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