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State Department: Cuba Refuses To Return U.S. Citizen’s Body

March 17, 1985

MIAMI (AP) _ The Cuban government has refused to return the body of a U.S. citizen who was arrested there when he arrived to visit relatives and died four months ago in jail, according to the State Department.

″I don’t think he had been convicted of anything. I don’t know what the charge was,″ said Diane Dillard, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Jesus Maria Bouza Rojas, 35, who was born in Cuba, arrived in that communist island nation to visit relatives Oct. 12, and was arrested the same day, said Ms. Dillard.

″I don’t have the slightest idea of what happened,″ said Angel Pino, spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., which represents the Cuban government in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

The Cuban government says Bouza, of Miami, died in jail Nov. 9 of a heart attack brought on by asthma, the State Department said.

However, Cuba’s government did not inform the State Department of Bouza’s death until Dec. 3 and did not give a reason for his arrest, Ms. Dillard said Friday.

The State Department has sent the Cuban government two diplomatic notes asking for the return of the body, said Ms. Dillard.

″We’ve been trying to get his body back,″ she said. ″We’ve been dealing with the Cuban government. They have just ignored our requests.″

Bouza lived in Miami with his mother and worked part-time at a real estate agency.

Eight Cuban-Americans are among 15 U.S. citizens in Cuban jails on charges ranging from drug offenses to petty crimes, said Ms. Dillard.

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