May 25, 2019 News
By Leonard Gildarie
The United States embassy in Georgetown yesterday confirmed that it is being engaged in the matter involving Daniel Llorente,
a 55-year-old Cuban activist who claimed he was illegally bundled on a plane and dumped in Guyana last week.
Known for adorning himself with the US flag, and participating in protests in Cuba, much to the anger of authorities there, Llorente claimed to local and international media, including Kaieteur News, that he was told by police who detained him in his country that he should ask for a visa at the Georgetown embassy.
Llorente had never been to Guyana and knows no one here.
In essence, he was kicked out of his own country last week.
Yesterday, a spokesperson for the US embassy disclosed that Llorente has engaged them. The
re were no disclosures what those engagements are.
However, Llorente on Thursday said that it is his intentions to ask the US for political asylum as he is fearful of what would happen to him if he is sent back to Cuba.
Yesterday, as part of a process to ask for protection, Llorente visited the Red Cross headquarters in Kingston where he was asked to fill up certain paperworks.
He was accompanied by Luis Hernández Martín, owner of a coffee shop in Cuba who was forced to leave after pressure by his government.
Llorente said that he will be visiting the Department of Citizenship next week.
The case is now capturing the attention of a number of organisations and government.
Calls to the Cuban embassy several times yesterday went unanswered.
A staffer who asked that the news link from the US be sent to her Whatsapp number earlier this week did not respond although she read the message.
The Cuban embassy itself has not issued a statement responding to Llorente’s claims that his country illegally expelled him to Guyana.
On Monday, a US online news, Brietbart.com reported that Llorente known as the ‘Flag Man’, in Cuba, was sent from his country to Guyana in highly controversial circumstances.
It would raise alarming questions about Cuba’s tolerance to human rights, at a time when the Spanish-speaking country is under pressure by the US for widespread reforms.
It would also raise questions about that country’s respect for Guyana’s sovereignty, as local authorities were not even aware that the man was here.
Llorente, who kept under the radar since coming last week, had complained over the weekend to Radio Marti, a popular Spanish news outfit in Florida.
He has been residing here since last week, surviving on donations from a few Cubans who recognised him. He has enough money to last him for 10 days, and is hoping for a job.
At the airport in Cuba, he was handed the cash equivalent of US$50 by police personnel and told that where he is going, he would be able to seek closer relations with the US by having them grant a visa. He only knew on the plane that he was en route to Guyana.
Llorente is known for participating in protests and other forms of activism in Cuba wearing a US flag. There are many videos and photos online. He has been arrested several times, jailed and even placed in a hospital to determine whether he is mentally stable.
He was detained last week Thursday at his home. He just managed to grab a handbag and his Bible and a Voter’s ID.
He was taken to the José Martí International Airport and placed on a plane.
On the aircraft, he was given an immigration form, which would have required that he fill out the reasons for the visit in Guyana.
According to Llorente, as he could not speak and write English, he left some parts of the form blank.
He said at the airport, he was stamped in without much questions asked.
He came out, very much lost, and was only saved by a Cuban passenger who gave him money for a night and food at a city guesthouse.
The Foreign Ministry and police here had initially said that there are no records that he came in.
However, it appeared that the Immigration Office only checked for arrivals after May 17.
There would be questions, if Llorente’s story is true, how he made it through the Timehri airport without stating his reason for a stay in Guyana. The Cuban authorities would also have to explain on how they decided to send Llorente to Guyana.
According to the activist yesterday, he is tired of being locked up and harassed for expressing his rights.
On Thursday, the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audrey Waddell, said that she will be raising the issue with Cuban Embassy here.
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