“Give Him Death” By Carlos Alberto Montaner

July 22, 2022

“Give Him Death”

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

It has been 10 years since Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero were assassinated in Cuba. It was July 22, 2012. We’ll get to that later. Ángel Carromero, a Spaniard, and Aron Modig, a Swede, were, more or less, witnesses to the murder. Carromero was a delegate of Nuevas Generaciones (New Generations,) the youth organization of the Spanish Popular Party, and Modig was the president of Sweden’s Young Christian Democrats.

A few days ago, I received an excellent book by David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorialist for The Washington PostGIVE ME LIBERTY: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and His Daring Quest for a Free Cuba. The Pulitzer Prize is a guarantee that Hoffman knows how to investigate. He wouldn’t buy a pig in a poke.

For those unfamiliar with American history, “Give me Liberty” is a famous speech Patrick Henry delivered at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775, as the American Revolution was brewing. His words, which electrified the audience, ended with a well-known phrase in the country, “Give me Liberty… or give me death.”

The very well researched work, especially regarding the history of Payá, was sent to me by John Suárez, who substituted Frank Calzón, the founder and soul of the “Center for a Free Cuba,” a think tank devoted exclusively to freedom for Cubans. Perhaps it is the only one of its kind in a city where think tanks abound.

As I was saying, Give me Liberty convinced me of what Ofelia (Payá’s widow) and Rosa María (Payá’s eldest daughter and founder of “Cuba Decides,” a formidable collaborator in her father’s work) had already warned me about, that the regime assassinated Oswaldo and Harold, although it was not what Raúl Castro intended to do. He wanted to scare them, not kill them, but he condoned the action as soon as it was done. For Fidel and Raúl it was obvious where their loyalties lay. Hence the brutal cover-up, as always happens – the episodes of the sunken ships with their cargo of innocent children, the “13 de Marzo” and the “Canímar,” and the executions of General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Tony de la Guardia et al, are the best known, but not the only ones.

Cuban secret services, organized and trained by communist Germany’s Stasi in the 1960s and 1970s, have conspicuous and invisible ways of carrying out the persecution of any targeted individuals on the island. They wanted to give a lesson to the “arrogant Europeans” that were on the island to train Cubans in the details of the transition, so they chose the “conspicuous” formula.

A conspicuous vehicle, typical of the fearsome Cuban State Security, a red Lada, which followed them for a long time during the journey, even hitting the rear end of their car, causing the accident that would result in the death of the two Cubans (what a coincidence!)

It was not the first time that Oswaldo Payá had been followed conspicuously. An associate of Payá stated that days before the assassination of the opposition leader, together with Harold Cepero, they used the same procedure to try to instill fear in Payá, only that on that occasion they overturned his vehicle, and the car was left with the tires facing up.

That is why State Security (the Cuban political police) has an erratic behavior. On the one hand, they did what they have always done, what internally they felt authorized to do – terrorize dissidents. But in this case both people were killed.

If they died on the spot, or if they were killed later, in both cases there is a cover-up and very suspicious behavior. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, a great expert on Cuban affairs, assures that he was assassinated in an article (“How did Oswaldo Payá really die?”) published in the Wall Street Journal on April 7, 2013.

Why do they deny the family the opportunity to examine the body and perform an autopsy? Why don’t they respond to the accusations made by the jurists of “Human Rights Foundation”? What is the point of refusing to share the evidence with supporters and opponents if they have it at hand and it is a golden opportunity to shut up the opponents of the Cuban revolution for many years?

No one believes the story of the “revolutionary arrogance.” When it has been necessary, they have lowered their heads and swallowed their pride. Both are already dead, and the story can be told. Fraga Iribarne told Fidel Castro that they were going to hang him by the testicles if he did not change his behavior. Fidel left Galicia that early morning, but he did not reply to Fraga. He swallowed his response.

Today, and since the Chavista charity ended, the country has worsened and has become a pigsty due to the lack of every basic item (electricity, medicines, drinking water, food), to which is added the presence of dengue, Covid and of other similar misfortunes, as if the seven plagues of Egypt affected Cuba.

Ultimately, what Oswaldo Payá proposed with the “Varela Project” is extraordinarily valid. In 2003, 19 years ago, he proposed going “from the law to the law,” taking advantage of a space left by the current legislation to ask the nation if it insisted on communism or if it evolved towards other more intelligent and sensible ways of organizing coexistence. At that time Fidel Castro was still alive and, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity that his opponent gave him to rectify, he came out with a rude remark and accused him of being “the CIA by other means.”

He did not give him freedom. Instead, he gave him death.