Cuban Radio Anchorman Defects At Summit With AM-Americas Summit, Bjt
MIAMI (AP) _ A Cuban radio news anchor asked for political asylum upon arriving to cover the Summit of the Americas, saying he could no longer tolerate the repression of his homeland.
Carlos Santana Ojeda said Friday he was unable to resist a ″once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to get out.″ He sought asylum upon arrival at Miami International Airport late Thursday.
Cuba is the only Western Hemisphere nation not invited to the 34-nation summit convened to outline a program of free trade and economic development. Several Latin leaders have promised to bring up Cuba’s human rights violations and lack of freedom during the summit discussions.
Santana said he was the anchor of an economic news talk show called ″Clearly Speaking″ that airs daily on Radio Rebelde, a government-run station, and the news director of ″Exclusive on Radio Rebelde.″
Santana said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he grew tired of repeating the party line. He said presenting a positive picture of Cuba’s bleak economic situation was difficult.
Santana said he got into trouble by sometimes straying from the government’s spin on the news.
″I had my problems. Sometimes I deviated from the party line and they noticed,″ Santana said. ″We have our focus. We are supposed to present things in a certain way.″
He said he was reprimanded several times, and some programs he put together were never aired, such as a special report on prostitution in Cuba.
He said Cuba sent four other reporters to cover the Summit of the Americas. There whereabouts was not known.
Santana said he was in contact with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and hoped to be allowed to remain in the United States.
INS spokesman Lamar Wooley said he was not aware of Santana’s defection and he was unable to answer questions about it.
Although the new Clinton administration policy is to detain all Cuban refugees, Santana remained free and said he planned to attend an anti-Castro demonstration Saturday in Miami.
To choke off a Cuban refugee boatlift last summer, the administration began detaining Cubans either in Panama, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba or at detention centers in the United States.