Cuban dissident dies in car accident

La vida de Oswaldo Payá
La vida de Oswaldo Payá

    JUST WATCHED

    La vida de Oswaldo Payá

MUST WATCH

La vida de Oswaldo Payá 02:27

Story highlights

  • Cuban government statement says two people died in accident, two more injured
  • Daughter of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas questions government account
  • Rosa Maria Paya says her father died Sunday in Granma province in a car accident
  • Paya was known far beyond Cuba for his criticisms of the island's socialist government

Prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas died in a car accident Sunday, his daughter Rosa Maria Paya told CNN. He was 60.

She said her father died after the car he was traveling in was struck by another car in Cuba's eastern Granma province.

The car crash took place at 1:50 p.m. near Bayamo, Cuba, according to statement released by the Cuban government's International Press Center.

In Spanish: Government statement

Paya and passenger Harold Capero died in the accident, the statement said. Two other passengers -- a Spanish citizen and Swedish citizen -- were injured and taken to a hospital, it said.

Baseball diplomacy with Cuba
Baseball diplomacy with Cuba

    JUST WATCHED

    Baseball diplomacy with Cuba

MUST WATCH

Baseball diplomacy with Cuba 02:23
Cuban dissident testifies, disappears
Cuban dissident testifies, disappears

    JUST WATCHED

    Cuban dissident testifies, disappears

MUST WATCH

Cuban dissident testifies, disappears 02:26
Castro's daughter on Cuba's future
Castro's daughter on Cuba's future

    JUST WATCHED

    Castro's daughter on Cuba's future

MUST WATCH

Castro's daughter on Cuba's future 09:38

The government statement says there was not a second car involved in the crash and said the rental car that Paya was traveling in lost control and crashed into a tree. Cuban police are investigating the crash, the statement said.

On Paya's website, his daughter Rosa Maria posted an audio clip saying his family believed that a second car had been involved and that it had intentionally struck the car in which Paya was traveling.

A devout Christian and an engineer, Paya was known far beyond Cuba for his criticisms of the island's socialist government.

Cuban doctors battle to control cholera outbreak

In 2002, shortly before former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba, Paya delivered petitions containing 11,020 signatures calling for democratic elections and freedom of speech to Cuba's National Assembly.

Although the initiative -- called the "Varela Project" -- was ignored by Cuba's government, Carter later spoke of Paya's signature drive during a speech that was broadcast on state television in Cuba.

The speech was the first time Cuba's government had allowed an American leader to address the populace as well as the first time that many Cubans had heard of Paya's efforts to change the country's political system.

Opinion: Should U.S. raise a fist or offer a hand to Cuba?

Internal opponents to Cuba's government are routinely labeled as traitors by the state-run media.

In 2003, Paya received the European Parliament's Sakharov prize for freedom of expression. The award is named for Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and is awarded to those who work to promote human rights and democracy.

        CNN recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        North Korea nuclear dream video

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photos: Faces of the world

        Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        How to fix a soccer match

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.