Cuba Denies U.S. Statements on Travel Permission
(Prensa Latina) The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied some statements by the U.S. government on the alleged impossibility of its officials to leave the capital due to “reciprocal travel restrictions” that would oblige Washington to respond accordingly.
The U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana invariably receives permissions to travel outside the capital to visit prisoners from the United States and naturalized Cuban, who comply with sanction anywhere in Cuba, Director for United States affairs at Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal said here. Vidal said in a statement that in recent months, U.S. officials, including the head of USINT, have had consular access in the provinces of Matanzas, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Ciego de Avila, and Camaguey, located in the island’s western and central regions. “We do not know on what reciprocity we are talking about , because all travel permissions for the USINT consular visits have been authorized without exception,” she warned.
On Wednesday, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced that Washington repeatedly denied consular access to Rene Gonzalez, one of the five antiterrorist fighters of the island unjustly held in that northern country. Following that statement, a State Department official admitted to the Spanish agency EFE -on condition of anonymity- such actions, and attributed it to the fact that “the Cubans do not allow us to travel outside Havana without prior permission, so we respond with the same restriction here.” He further stated that Rene Gonzalez can travel to Washington to meet with Cuban officials if those responsible for his supervised release allow it.
About this issue, Vidal explained that U.S. authorities have refused the anti-terrorist fighter recent applications to go outside the area where he complies with the additional punishment, which keeps him unjustly away from his wife. The leadership of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the complaint for the impossibility that Rene receives consular visits since September 2012, in violation of the U.S. obligations to the Vienna Convention on this point. The antiterrorist fighter was detained in 1998 along with Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Ramon Labañino for monitoring violent groups based in Miami that were planning terrorist actions against Cuba similar to those that have left more than 3,400 victims and 2,000 injured.
In October 2011, after completing his prison term, Rene was forced to remain in the United States under supervised release for three years, which activists, human rights organizatioms (sic), and lawyers consider it an additional punishment.
Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal left the US in May 2003 in conjunction with the expulsion of 14 Cuban spies serving under diplomatic cover.