17 Freed by Cuba Can’t Enter U.S., State Dept. Official Says
Seventeen political prisoners freed by Cuba have been told that they cannot enter the United States as long as a U.S.-Cuban immigration agreement remains suspended, the State Department said today.
Spokesman Bernard Kalb said three of the former prisoners recently called at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana to seek admission to the United States, saying they and 14 others had recently been released through the intercession of French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau.
But Kalb noted that a year ago Cuba had suspended an agreement under which the United States would admit political refugees while Cuba would take back “undesirables” who poured into the United States during the 1980 Mariel boat lift.
Cuba suspended the agreement in retaliation for the start of broadcasts into the Caribbean country by the Miami-based Radio Marti.
“While we have handled since May, 1985, some ex-political prisoners on an exceptional basis outside of the Mariel agreement, there is now no refugee processing at the U.S. interests section (in Havana),” Kalb told reporters.
“Under these circumstances, former Cuban political prisoners who wish to leave Cuba may seek resettlement in other democratic nations.”
Kalb said Washington is ready to implement the Mariel agreement once Cuba resumes repatriation of “Mariel criminals.”