Widow of Cuban opponent Oswaldo Payá sues US diplomat

MIAMI.- Ofelia Payawidow of the Cuban activist Oswaldo Payafiled a negligence lawsuit against former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha, who was arrested in December on charges of working as a secret agent for Cuba since the 1970s.

Oswaldo Payá died in 2012 in a car accident in eastern Cuba, which the regime Cuban attributed it to driver error. However, a surviving witness claimed that Payá’s vehicle was hit from behind by a red Lada car with government plates, which coincides with the conclusions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last year, which suggested the involvement of security agents. state in the incident.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Miami, Rocha directly provided critical information to Cuban officials, obtained through his access to classified information and his influence in different diplomatic roles. It is alleged that without the collaboration of the former ambassador, the Cuban regime would not have been able to carry out the alleged murder of Payá with impunity.

This request, presented on the day Payá would turn 72, reflects the feeling within the Cuban exile community in Miami, which considered Rocha as a conservative ally. Ofelia Payá is being represented pro bono by lawyer Carlos Trujillo, son of Cuban immigrants and former ambassador to the Organization of American States during the Donald Trump administration.

Rocha and the Castro regime

Although the lawsuit does not present direct evidence linking Rocha to Payá’s death, it suggests that, as a diplomat and businessman, he secretly sought to strengthen the Castro regime after retiring from the US Foreign Service in 2002.

These efforts reportedly included a position as special advisor to the United States Southern Command in Miami, between 2006 and 2012, responsible for matters related to Cuba.

The lawsuit also refers to secret diplomatic cables, published by Wikileaks, that suggest close surveillance by the US Interests Section in Havana on Payá’s activities, as well as his interactions with US officials.

At the time of his death, Payá, 60, was known as one of the most prominent opponents of the Cuban regime. He had founded the Varela Project, a grassroots network of Christians that advocated for freedom of assembly and human rights on the island, which earned him international recognition, including the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights awarded by the European Union in 2002.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AFP