Widow, daughter of late Cuban dissident seek US asylum

The widow and daughter of late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, who are visiting relatives in Miami, said on Tuesday that they plan to seek asylum in the United States.

"We are political refugees, because we are politically persecuted in Cuba," said Ofelia Acevedo, whose deceased husband founded the Christian Liberation Movement dissident group.

"We did not come here seeking political asylum, but we are, quite simply, refugees who have found ourselves in this country," she told a press conference at a Miami church.

Acevedo arrived in Miami on June 6, accompanied by three children, her mother and a sister, on a visit. She said it was to see friends and relatives who have settled in this Florida metropolis, considered the capital of the communist island's exile community and home to some 90,000 Cuban Americans.

Her late husband Paya and another Cuban dissident, Harold Cepero, were killed July 22, 2012, in southeastern Cuba when their rental car went off a country road and crashed into a tree.

The vehicle's driver, Spanish conservative youth leader Angel Carromero, and another passenger, Swedish activist Jens Aron Modig, survived the crash.

A government investigation concluded that Carromero had been driving too fast, hit an unpaved section of road and lost control of the vehicle.

Paya's family, however, said they suspected foul play, and alleged that the vehicle had been struck from behind -- an account of events later supported by Carromero.

Paya was one of the Cuban government's most prominent critics, and his death caused an international storm and fervent calls for an international investigation.

His widow suggested that the controversy and suspicion surrounding his death was a major factor in her decision to abandon her homeland.

"You all know what has happened to my family in Cuba, what happened to my husband -- the reasons I have to leave Cuba are quite clear," she said.

Paya's daughter Rosa Maria, who ha also decided to seek asylum in the United States, railed against alleged "repression" that her family has been subjected to since her father's death, including "threats and surveillance" by authorities.

They said, however, that they hope someday to be able to return to Cuba if there is a change of government, and will continue to work from outside for improved human rights there.