Widow Of Dissident Killed In Mysterious Car Crash Sues Former US Ambassador Charged With Spying

(Photo by ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/GettyImages)

John Oyewale Contributor
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The widow of an anti-communist Cuban dissident killed twelve years ago in a car crash sued a former U.S. ambassador facing espionage charges, The Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.

Ofelia Payá, widow of late Oswaldo Payá, sued Victor Manuel Rocha in Miami, Florida, alleging Rocha was an “accomplice” to the late activist’s “assassination”, according to the AP.

Rocha “directly aided Cuban officials by providing them with critical intelligence that he obtained through his Top-Secret security clearance and influential roles,” Ofelia Payá’s lawsuit reportedly alleged. “Cuba would not have been able to execute Mr. Payá with impunity without Defendant conspiring with and providing intelligence and aid to Cuba’s dictatorship.”

The lawsuit further alleged that Rocha secretly supported Cuba’s late longtime dictator Fidel Castro’s regime using his position as a special adviser to the head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami from 2006 to 2012 as a “veneer of loyalty and service to the United States,” the AP reported. Rocha, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, reportedly took up the position after retiring from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2002.

No evidence demonstrating any link between Rocha and Payá’s demise is provided by the lawsuit, according to the outlet (RELATED: DOJ Charges Ex-US Official For Allegedly Working As A Cuban Spy Over Decades)

SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility reportedly includes Cuba. Oswaldo Payá was a critic of the Cuban regime through his grassroots Christian group, the Varela Project, defending human freedoms and right to assembly, the AP reported.


The AP said it reviewed clandestine diplomatic communications Wikileaks published. In doing so, the outlet discovered for nearly two years from 2006 to 2008, American diplomats in Havana provided the commanding officer of SouthCom information on Payá’s undertakings, U.S. monetary backing and his communications with U.S. officials.

Oswaldo Payá died in Bayamo, Cuba, in July 2012, when the vehicle he occupied hit a tree, the Cuban government claimed, the AP reported. His family and the then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, reportedly called for investigations into the death. The driver of the car testified that a vehicle with a Cuban government-licensed vehicle had struck the car, causing the crash, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights noted in a report.

Rocha was charged last December “with committing multiple federal crimes by secretly acting for decades as an agent of the government of the Republic of Cuba,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.