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Payá crash was provoked, says Pulitzer winner David Hoffman in new book

The editor of The Washington Post, David Hoffman, said in an interview with Radio Martí that the evidence regarding the death of renowned Cuban opponent Oswaldo Payá is clear: a car hit the vehicle in which he was traveling along with three other people near Bayamo, Granma, on July 22, 2012.

The winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his study on the Cold War “The Dead Hand” presented his new book on the life of the Cuban opponent in Coral Gables, Florida.

A few weeks after the anniversary of the death of opponents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, Hoffman confirmed to Radio Martí that for his book “Give Me Liberty” (“Give me Liberty”), he was able to interview the two European politicians who were in the vehicle with both that day: the Swedish Aron Modig and the Spanish Angel Carromero.

“What we do know for sure is that the car in which Oswaldo Payá was traveling, which Carromero was driving, was hit from behind, hit from behind. And Carromero lost control of the car,” Hoffman said.

“There are things we don’t know,” he added. “We do not know exactly how Oswaldo and Harold Cepero died (…) There are many things that remain unanswered regarding the events of that day. But in the book I try to tell what I know to be the facts and then leave some of the unknowns as question marks.”

“In Mr. Carromero’s trial (in Cuba) for what happened that day,” he commented, “the fact that the car was hit from behind was never brought up. I ask why?

Carromero, from the beginning, has said that a Lada car hit them. However, since the day of the crash, Modig has said he was unaware of what was happening as he was asleep and then injured, and at the hospital he texted his girlfriend in Sweden to ask what country he was in.

Hoffman replied that he talked to Modig for a long time about this issue, to clarify what happened. “Modig fell asleep while they were driving,” he said, “but at the last moment, when the car was rear-ended, he curled into a fetal position to protect himself. So something in his mind, he clearly recognized that they were about to be in danger. He then passed out and came to in an ambulance.”

There is also “other evidence” indicating that a car collided with the vehicle that killed Payá and Cepero, Hoffman said.

“One of the reasons I say we know the car was rear-ended is that both Carromero and Modig had texted family and friends in Europe. And I have those text messages, I write about them in the book. They say that “they hit us from behind,” said the writer.

When asked if these text messages from Carromero and Modig “clearly indicate that they both say they were hit from behind,” Hoffman says yes.

“In one of the messages, they are quoting each other. One of them quotes the other as saying they were hit from behind. They send the message to people in Europe that ‘we got hit from behind’. And Carromero says that after the car stopped, and they escorted him, the first thing he asked the people who pulled him was: Why did they do this to us?

At the end of the interview, Hoffman regrets that there was never a satisfactory investigation into what happened, and that in Carromero’s trial held in Cuba there was no mention of the other car, although the young Spanish politician had denounced the hit by a Lada to the authorities.

Oswaldó Payá was born in 1952 in Havana. In 1988 he founded the Christian Liberation Movement. In 1999 he launched the Todos Unidos project, and in 2002 he presented more than 11,000 signatures for the Varela Project, which called for a referendum on the laws that govern Cuba.

In 2002, the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and a few months later, in the Black Spring of 2003, dozens of promoters of the Varela Project were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.

After his death on a highway near Bayamo in 2012, The Washington Post, the Payá family and human rights organizations called for an independent investigation into what happened.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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