Jul 07, 2019 News
A Cuban national who claimed he was expelled by his own country to Guyana back in May, has been granted protection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
This development comes even as the Cuban Embassy in Guyana has denied any knowledge of Daniel Llorente being forcibly sent to Guyana so he could approach the US Embassy in Kingston, Georgetown for a visa.
Llorente is a well-known Cuban activist who openly flaunted his support for the US government, even draping the US flag on his body during public protests. There are numerous online videos on YouTube about him.
After being “dumped” here in Guyana, he reportedly applied to the UN for protection claiming that his life was threatened and if he is sent back to Cuba, he would be killed.
It appeared that the UN body, based in Washington, was sufficiently convinced that he has a case.
The UN body issued an Asylum Seeker Certificate, which asked Guyana to also assist him.
The certificate was issued on May 29, 2019 and expires on May 28, 2020.
It said that Daniel Miranda Llorente from Cuba arrived here on May 16, last.
“This is to certify that the above-named person, national of Cuba, is an asylum seeker whose claim for refugee status is being examined by the United National High Commissioner for Refugees.
“As an asylum seeker, he is a person of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and should be protected from forcible return to a country where he would face persecution, pending a final decision on his refugee status. Any assistance accorded to the above-named individual would be most appreciated,” the certificate said.
Over the weekend, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that the Cuban Embassy in Georgetown had been asked about the reports in the press.
However, the embassy “denied any knowledge” that Llorente was forced out of Cuba to Guyana.
The activist had complained to Kaieteur News and US media houses that he was illegally detained, and placed on a plane to Guyana.
The Cuban police, Llorente claimed, told him never to return to Cuba or he will be “disappeared”.
Minister with responsibilities for Citizenship, Winston Felix, admitted the matter is a perplexing one.
“We are looking into the matter. We cannot fathom what is going on, unless we do a detailed interview with the gentleman, and bearing in mind the language problem, we have to be cautious.”
According to Felix, the issue is an international one.
Since arriving in May, Llorente met with the local United Nations office and engaged the US embassy to make his case.
He is very well known in Cuba where for years his activism has seen him arrested and jailed.
There are numerous videos of him being interviewed and photos of him participating in protests.
Perhaps, none was more famous than when he used a US flag to run across an open area, in full glare of cameras, while the government of Cuba was observing Labour Day activities. He was taken away.
The US has slapped sanctions on Cuba, for decades now. Thousands of Cubans live in the US.
Relations between the two countries are still cold.
Llorente claimed he once was even forcibly placed on a tour bus to prevent him at one time from participating in protests.
He told of instances where he would just be picked up shortly before an event and kept in lockups until it is finished.
The US Embassy in Georgetown had confirmed that it is being engaged in the matter involving Llorente.
The Cuban Embassy, on High Street, has not issued a statement on the matter or responded to questions.
Llorente had never been to Guyana before. He 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.
The case had raised alarming questions about Cuba’s in 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.
He has been residing here, surviving on donations from a few Cubans who recognised him.
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.
He said at the airport at Timehri, in Guyana, 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.
At the time of his alleged arrest, he was wearing a T-shirt depicting the flag of Cuba and the US and President Donald Trump.
Guyana has close relations with Cuba, with an ongoing agreement for training for medical students and the sending of doctors here to work in hospitals.
A over 200-page report published by a coalition of human rights NGOs last month concluded “without fear of error” that Cuba has violently forced or threatened to force “hundreds” of political dissidents into exile, in many cases buying them plane tickets and taking them to the airport at gunpoint.
Cuban Prisoners Defenders, an NGO dedicated to pro-democracy judicial action, along with the Patmos Institute and the Foundation for Pan-American Democracy, debuted the report at a press conference in Madrid on Wednesday.
The groups identified 77 cases of the Cuban communist regime threatening to or actually expatriating dissidents during their research in just the week of June 11 to June 18.
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