Friday, December 29, 2006

Playing Hot Potato With Anti-Cuban Activist

Havana will not accept a Cuban dissident set to be deported from Bolivia for criticizing President Evo Morales' close ties to the island nation, the government said Thursday.

Interior Vice Minister Ruben Gamarra called on the United States to help find another destination for Amauris Sanmartino because the U.S. helped settle him in Bolivia. ...

"We've spoken with Cuba and Cuba doesn't want him," Gamarra said.

Sanmartino and 11 fellow dissidents fled Cuba in 2000 on a boat bound for Florida. Picked up by U.S. immigration authorities, the group was taken to Guantanamo Bay before U.S. officials helped find them a home in Bolivia.

U.S. officials confirmed that they were discussing Sanmartino's future with the Bolivian government but declined to comment further.

The Bolivian government has accused Sanmartino of having ties to a radical separatist movement in the city of Santa Cruz, a center of conservative opposition to Morales about 340 miles east of La Paz. They also claim Sanmartino helped organize a Dec. 15 protest.

Sanmartino has denied both accusations.


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