Cuban refugees in hunger strike

Tuesday, February 25 2014 @ 02:40 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

The group of Cubans granted asylum by the government in September 2013 began a hunger strike today in front of the Chancellery, in Casco Antiguo.

The Cubans adopted these measures because they say Panama has not complied with what they were offered with territorial asylum.

They are asking for Panamanian nationality because even though the government gave them temporary residence, they can not get permanent jobs.

Of the nine Cubans accepted by Panama, there are five who even warned that if the situation does not change they will sew their lips closed.

They took a similar action when they were imprisoned in the Bahamas, after they were arrested by the maritime authorities as they were escaping Cuba.

They were granted asylum thanks to the intervention of Guillermo Cochez, the former Ambassador of Panama to the Organization of American States. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The Cuban refugee situation creates a dilemma for Panama. Last year there was a sort of "wave" of Cubans who were passing through Panama. Most of them would fly to Ecuador (another communist country that has friendly relations with Cuba). Then the refugees would set out over land from South America, trying to get to the United States. If ten Mexicans and one Cuban hop over the fence in Texas, the Mexicans can be returned, but the Cuban can stay thanks to the long standing "feet dry" policy.

So these nine were detained, and then eventually Panama granted them asylum. Panama is now probably worried that if they make things too easy for this little group, then tomorrow there will be thousands of Cubans looking for asylum and Panamanian nationality and jobs. So both the government of Panama and the refugees are in a dilemma - stuck on the fence. These guys are trying to force Panama's hand by threatening to sew their lips shut. I think they are probably over estimating the strength of their position (there seems to be a lot of that going on lately.) Panama can put these dudes on a Copa flight to Havana tomorrow, and that would be the end of that. Remember, Guillermo Cochez was fired from his post at the OAS because he spouted off an anti-Chavez (Venezuela) rant that went against the official positions of the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency. He's also a Panameņista, so, bye. This is just one more of his legacies which Martinelli now has to clean up.

And as far as Cuba is concerned - hasn't anyone noticed that the cold war is over? If there's a revolution in Havana, then Russia would not be likely to nuke Miami. Sooner or later democracy will have to return to the island, and this decades long problem of Cuban refugees would be done. That would keep the US military occupied for about three weeks. Then, we could move on to something more interesting. And of course the chances of the Commie in Chief making that sort of a move are zero - so this is little more than wishful thinking on my part. It's really self serving. It's warm in Cuba, and I would like to be able to go there on vacation and spend money. You know, like Americans did in the 50's before the "revolution" made things so much better there...

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