Interview with Rosa Maria Payá and Aron Modig in Swedish Radio P1 on March 4, 2013, by Maria Persson-Löfgren.
Sveriges Radio P1 - Studio Ett.
Transcript and translation by Eva Belfrage
March 4, 2013
Rosa Maria Paya, daughter to the opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, who died in a car accident last summer, is on a visit to Sweden right now. Among other things there will be a ceremony in memory of her father in the parliament tomorrow. Rosa Maria Payá takes the opportunity to share her critique against Aron Modig, who was in the car with Oswaldo Payá. According to the family the accident was arranged by forces who wanted to kill him. And Aron Modig should have told what he knew about it, she says.
Payá’s daughter – It was no accident.
Rosa Maria Paya: In a systematic way my father was given many death threats, which now have started against my family. They have called us and said that “We shall kill you”. These threats come directly from the State Security. I have interviewed Angel Carromero, the other person who survived and I have received the confirmation that they were intentionally hit from behind and forced off the road.
Before the visit to Sweden Rosa Maria Paya and her party friends in the small forbidden Christian Democratic party, MCL, have met human rights organizations in Geneva and in Spain they met the driver of the crashed car, Angel Carromero. He says today firmly that they were followed and hit from behind before they crashed. Thus it was a premeditated murder attempt. Rosa Maria and her family and other Cuban dissidents are convinced that it wasn’t only an accident, but a planned murder.
But she has disappointedly twittered about the other survivor, Aron Modig, chairman of the youth movement of the Christian Democratic Party in Sweden, who has chosen to keep quite about it since he returned to Sweden. But as she is here now as the guest of his party she is more careful about what she says.
Rosa Maria: I think that all Aron and Angel said just after the accident, is due to the fact that their lives were in danger in Cuba and that they therefore could not speak the whole truth, she says. But she hopes to know more now and perhaps receive an excuse from Aron Modig, that he first sent and SMS that there was a car that hit them and that he then choose to keep silent about this fact.
I hope first of all that the truth will come out and that the lawlessness and repression in Cuba will stop, that my family and party friends in MCL not any more will have to live under death threats, says Rosa Maria.
In contrary to the picture that the government now tries to give internationally, the repression has not decreased, but rather the opposite as the persecutions of dissidents increase. The softening of the travel restrictions, which started in January this year for example is only cosmetic according to Rosa Maria.
I am worried for my own security, but my family is in Cuba and in Cuba the struggle for freedom is going on right now and I want to be part of that and therefore return and continue the struggle. But she knows that by leaving the country and now criticizing the regime during her stay abroad, she runs the risk of not being allowed to return.
Interview with Aron Modig
MPL: You heard Rosa Maria – you knew what had happened but you choose to keep quite?
Aron: No it’s not like that. I have several times to media declared that. I don’t have any memory of the specific car crash. And so it is. I talked today with Rosa Maria for several hours. It has been good and a relief to meet her again after what happened, and go through what happened last summer and thereafter. Rosa Maria is naturally very frustrated, it is fully understandable and I share the frustration of not getting a clarification into what really happened that day in July.
MPL: She has said that you sent an SMS after the accident, where you write that you were followed and pushed off the way. Did you write that?
Aron: Yes it is correct, I wrote that SMS to friends here in Sweden, where it says that “Angel say that we were followed…
MPL: The driver?
Aron: Exactly. But I have not my own memories about that. But I must say that I have no reason to doubt what Rosa Maria now says, the information now coming from Angel Carromero, the Spaniard, or other information coming from other sources.
MPL: So you think today that it was an attack?
Aron: Think or not, I have no proper memory pictures of what happened, but on the other hand I don’t have any doubts about what is now revealed. These are very credible persons.
MPL: Seven months have passed since the accident – what do you carry with you from the accident today?
Aron: Very much, I think about it every day and that is the seven months that have passed. It was a very commotional experience for me and I got to know very close how a dictatorship of Cuba’s kind is functioning. They deprived me of my freedom for a little more than a week, they took my possessions, I was not given the possibility to contact my family and the Swedish diplomats working in Cuba. And all this without any information about a suspected crime committed. I was not informed about which process I was in and what I could expect, how long time it would take. I have been able to see the reality, that common people in Cuba have to live with every day.
MPL: You were there to support the opposition both morally and economically?
Aron: Moral support.
MPL: Not economic?
Aron: I had some money with me for families, whose economic provider was in Cuban prisons, because of political engagement. And I have been to Cuba several times. Last summer I met with representatives of the Christian democratic movement, but I have been there earlier and met journalists who do their best to run independent news work.
MPL: Considering how your visit ended, are you self critical. You put yourself and also the opposition at risks with your visit?
Aron: Sure I put myself at risk when I went to a dictatorship, but that’s the reason.
MPL: And those you visited?
Aron: Yes of course, but the objective of this trip and others like it, which have been carried out many times during the years, is very good and we work together, and in this case with the Christian democratic movement in Cuba and this is to support them in continuing with their activities. So I don’t look at it in that way. I think it was a right thing to do, to go there. But then it went very wrong, yes extremely wrong. For some reason and that is of course unfortunate.
MPL: But do you draw any conclusion about how to work with opposition groups when you want to support them, after this experience?
Aron: If there is something I have concluded it is that today I think that this work is even more important than I thought before this happened.
MPL: Is it possible to do it in any other way, to minimize the risks for those you visit?
Aron: To eliminate the risks is impossible. The character of the work is risky. But the cause for which we work and for which Rosa Maria and other people in the democratic movement in Cuba work, is so much greater, that it must be worth taking these risks.
MPL: Thank you Aron Modig, president of the Youth movement of the Christian Democratic Party.