Cuban Negotiators Agree to End Siege; Inmates to Vote : Tentative Pact Inked in Atlanta
Government negotiators and representatives of Cubans holding 89 hostages at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary signed a tentative agreement today to end the 11-day-old crisis.
The document, signed about 1:30 p.m. after a two-hour negotiating session, was then taken to the 1,105 Cuban and 17 American inmates inside the prison for a vote.
“This is the first time we have ever gotten agreement from all six on all points,” Justice Department spokesman Patrick Korten said of the six Cuban representatives talking with government negotiators. “We have no idea at this stage whether the agreement will be approved, nor do we know when this might take place.”
But Korten cautioned that the signing of the pact would not necessarily signal an end to the prison takeover.
“You have to remember we had agreement on the essential points in Oakdale but it still took three or four more days,” he said.
Korten would not disclose the points in the agreement reached, but said the government spent much of the meeting clarifying its position on “a number of points and offered new language designed to meet some of the concerns expressed earlier by the negotiators for the detainees.”
Approved by Meese
“If they approve it, this is it,” Korten said. It already has been approved by Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III.
The tentative agreement, reached after a two-hour negotiating session, would apply to an estimated 3,800 Cuban detainees held in county, state and federal prisons nationwide, Korten said.
However, Korten said the pact would have no bearing on the status of American inmates serving prison sentences at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta.
The announcement of the agreement came about three hours after the Cubans broadcast in Spanish over the prison’s public address system the contents of an appeal addressed to Reagan.
“We implore you to bring this to a just finish,” the broadcast said. “You are an honorable man and you have seen a lot of events which have had an impact reaching worldwide. Please listen to our plea. We are asking for just a little. We believe, Mr. President Reagan, that you can bring this crisis to an end and the simple justice and reality we trust is in your hands.
“We don’t want to go to any communist country. We are pleading to you Mr. Reagan, the public and the media. We are ready to die in this attempt. We believe our cause is just.”
Rioted, Seized Hostages
The Cuban inmates rioted Nov. 23, burning prison buildings and seizing hostages after the Cuban government agreed to repatriate some 2,500 “undesirables” who came to the United States in the 1980 Mariel boat lift. One inmate was killed and there were several injuries.
Another uprising of Cuban detainees, in Oakdale, La., ended on Sunday when the 1,000 inmates released their 26 hostages.
Earlier today, Cuban-born Auxiliary Bishop Agustin Roman of Miami, who was credited with ending the eight-day prison uprising in Louisiana, delayed a trip to Atlanta because of stalled talks between the Cubans and federal authorities.
Roman had sent a taped message to the inmates at the fortress-like Atlanta prison Wednesday, urging his fellow countrymen to be calm and realistic in their expectations.
Also today, one inmate surrendered before the tentative accord was reached and other inmates protested the use of helicopters over the prison compound. But a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said the helicopters were being used for observation and would continue because they were needed.