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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Cuba denies entry to Latin American politicians

Por Feco

Pastrana and Quiroga arrived in Havana on a flight from the Colombian airline Avianca from Bogotá and Rosa María Payá went there with the intention of receiving them. The former presidents had to collect this Thursday the award as representatives of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA), formed by 37 former presidents and former heads of government.

Cuba has entered into another diplomatic fight with figures of Latin American politicians critical of the regime. The ex-presidents of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, and of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga, have been deported Wednesday after being held at the Havana airport. "We are being detained by the Cuban government," Pastrana tweeted past noon. He appeared next to Quiroga on a sofa in an airport lounge. An hour later, another photograph of both seated in a plane with the message: "The Cuban dictatorship deported us from the island today for defending the democratic principles of the region." "They have told us that we are inadmissible, how sad," former Bolivian president Quiroga told Colombian Radio W.

Pastrana said he believed that Cuba's refusal responds to his criticism of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Havana's main political partner. On Tuesday, Cuban President Raúl Castro returned to Havana after participating in the ALBA summit in Caracas. Quiroga and Pastrana traveled to Cuba to collect the Payá Award, given by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy with the young Cuban opposition Rosa María Payá at the helm. She is the daughter of the dissident Oswaldo Payá, who died in 2012 in a traffic accident that the Payá family accuses the Cuban intelligence agencies of. Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), has denounced the situation on his Twitter account: "We demand that the rights of former Presidents @AndresPastrana_ and @tutoquiroga to be respected and that they are allowed to enter, travel to #Cuba, and pick up the #PremioPaya".

Almagro himself is invited to the ceremony in Havana and has applied for a visa to Cuba to attend, but has not received a response, according to what an OAS spokesman told the EFE agency. Almagro tried to attend in 2017 to receive the Payá Award but Cuba did not allow it. The Havana authorities not only did not grant him the visa for his official OAS passport, but they also warned him that he would not be given access if he arrived with his Uruguayan diplomatic passport.

The government led by General Raúl Castro -whose relief in the presidency is scheduled for April 19- considers Almagro a political enemy and the OAS a body run by Washington. After the revolution of 1959, Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962. In a column published this Tuesday in Granma, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, it specified that "neither the OAS nor any of its officials (...) will be never welcome in revolutionary Cuba. " That being said….