Media lies at death of Oswaldo Paya

On 22 July, Oswaldo Paya died in a car accident on Cuba’s Las Tunas-Bayamo highway near Las Gabinas in Granma Province. Paya was a leading member of the counter-revolutionary organisation Christian Liberation Movement, which has been involved in trying to destabilise the socialist government of Cuba since 1987. In 2002 Paya received the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for his attempts to undermine Cuban socialism. Oswaldo Paya had been receiving funding from right-wing organisations in Spain and Sweden, including the governing Partido Popular in Spain. Inevitably, the crash was seized on as political ammunition by Cuba’s enemies, who fuelled a barrage of accusations and internet rumours alleging that the accident had been deliberately engineered.


But contrary to the propaganda, all witnesses, including the driver, Angel Carromero, head of the youth section of Spain’s Partido Popular, reported that he lost control of the car after hitting a pot hole and that no other vehicle was involved. According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Carromero was on the verge of losing his driver’s licence at the time, having accumulated 45 fines since March 2010. Neither Paya nor another Cuban ‘dissident’, Harold Cepero, who later died of his injuries, were wearing seat belts. The other passenger in the car was the Swedish politician and chairman of the conservative Young Christian Democrats, Jens Aron Modig, who was in Cuba to make an illegal €4,000 donation to Paya’s organisation. Carromero remains in Cuba awaiting trial for causing deaths by ‘vehicular homicide’.

In the days following the death of Paya, more than 900 news items were published and 12,000 messages posted on websites concerning the accident. The right-wing Miami Mafia accused the Cuban government of assassinating Paya, quoting family members saying another vehicle had been involved; Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as the US State Department and the spokesperson for the Chilean presidency, called for a ‘transparent investigation’. ‘Car death “suspicious”, say family of Cuban dissident’ ran as a headline on the BBC’s online news page for three days. Everywhere the bourgeois press hailed Paya as a champion of democracy and repeated suggestions of foul play by the Cuban authorities. British Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne stated that the Paya’s death was a ‘terrible setback for those championing greater political and civil rights in Cuba’.

The hypocrisy is staggering; in the past ten years Britain has been implicated in countless extra-judicial executions, renditions, torture and abuse in the so-called ‘War on Terror’. In Britain, democratic rights are under attack and the police who are responsible for the deaths of so many, including Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger, remain free to commit murder on our streets. The desire for ‘greater political and civil rights in Cuba’ by Minister Browne is exposed as twisted imperialist rhetoric.

The attempts by the imperialists to use the accidental death of one of their stooges must be exposed for what they are: lies of the well-financed propaganda machine intent on sullying the name of the Cuban revolution and the inspiration it has provided to the poor and oppressed worldwide for over 50 years.

Victoria Smith

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 229 October/November 2012


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