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Castro, freedom, and the National Council of Churches

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Liberty Belle

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10 Months in the Bahamas
How Castro stretches his tyranny to other shores
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fidel Castro's depredations inside Cuba are by now well known. But less widely appreciated is how Fidel sometimes manages to imprison Cubans in other domiciles even once they've escaped his government's clutches.

A tragic example is the case of two Cuban dentists who have been held in squalid conditions at a detention center in Nassau, Bahamas for almost 10 months. The two have immigration visas to enter the U.S. and join their spouses and children who live here legally. But the one thing holding up their release for the past 10 months has been, you guessed it, El Maximo Lider.

David Gonzalez Mejias and Marialys Darias Mesa are not lawbreakers. Their efforts to emigrate from Cuba with their families began legally when they entered the visa "lottery" that the U.S. holds for Cubans every year since President Clinton made the "wet foot-dry foot" deal with Castro.

That policy says that the U.S. will send back Cuban migrants captured at sea (wet foot) but will also allow 20,000 visas a year to Cubans through a lottery system.

Not surprisingly, Fidel has not always kept his side of the bargain. Though the dentists had won U.S. visas in the lottery, he denied them exit visas in 2002 on grounds that their medical training made them too important to spare. The dentists sent their families on to the U.S. and obediently waited the three prescribed years.

When they reapplied in 2005, the Cuban government again refused to let them go. This time they were termed "indispensable" and given no certain date for when they might join their loved ones. (Meanwhile, Castro has sent thousands of Cuban medical professionals to Venezuela both to promote revolution and earn the hard currency that is so precious in Cuba's Third World economy.) In desperation, the dentists joined a "fast boat" escape from Cuba at the end of last April.

When the U.S. Coast Guard picked up the pair, along with 16 others, their mechanically disabled boat was in Bahamian waters. Tired and terrified, they say they showed their legal--but expired--visas to the Coast Guard officer, who decided not to allow them an immigration hearing, nor to repatriate them to Cuba. Instead he deposited them with the Bahamian government, which rejected their pleas as political refugees and sent them to the detention center in Nassau.

In a diplomatic note to the Bahamas on June 30, 2005, the U.S. said it wants the dentists freed and is ready to make current their visas. But the Bahamian government is refusing their release on the grounds that a memorandum of understanding with Fidel says that Cuban rafters get sent back to the revolutionary paradise. On the other hand, a source close to the matter tells us that Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie has assured U.S. Ambassador John Rood that they will not be returned to Cuba.

The real problem is that the Bahamas fears Castro and the retaliation he might unleash--especially a mass refugee exodus--if the escapees are allowed to reach liberty in America. So its compromise with the dictator has been to keep the doctors separated from their families, living in what we are told is an unsanitary prison with lice-infested pigeons, abusive guards and boys up to 14 years of age in the women's barracks.

The Bahamas is part of the British Commonwealth and, the last time we checked, a civilized place. Now would be a good time to prove this by releasing the dentists, whose only crime is fleeing for freedom. Oh, and one more point: This would also be a good time for the National Council of Churches, famous for its obsession in reuniting Elián González with his father in Cuba back in 2000, to speak up about the injustice and cruelty of breaking up families.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007965
 

Cal

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So many risk it all, and many die trying to reach freedom, and then we have pond scum like stevec that says it wasn't worth fighting for.
 

kolanuraven

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I've always said that #1 Castro is a 'has-been' now and not a threat ( not sure He ever was) AND with that in mind....if we'd go in a build a WalMart/McDonalds in downtown Havana....Cuba would be won over within a week!!
 

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