Leading Cuban dissident killed in auto crash
July 24, 2012
Oswaldo Paya, a leading Cuban Catholic and political dissident, was killed in an auto accident on July 22.
Paya’s son said that activist’s car had been forced off the road by another vehicle, raising questions about whether the crash had been entirely accidental. Cuban authorities promised a thorough investigation, saying that the evidence showed Paya had lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree. Another man, Harold Cepero, an ally of Paya’s, was also killed in the crash.
Oswaldo Paya formed the Christian Liberation Movement, and engineered a massive petition drive calling for changes in the Cuban government. When the Castro regime responded by putting dozens of human-rights activists in prison, Paya orchestrated an international pressure campaign for their release.
After the prisoners were freed in 2010, Paya saw a decline in his public influence. A fervent Catholic, he found himself in an uncomfortable disagreement with the Cuban hierarchy. The bishops had opted for dialogue with the government, working for gradual progress toward democracy, while Paya continued to push for more dramatic change.