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Cuban Air Force Major Snorkels Across Guantanamo Bay to Defect at US Base With AM-Costa

February 26, 1992

Cuban Air Force Major Snorkels Across Guantanamo Bay to Defect at US Base With AM-Costa Rica-Cuba Defectors

MIAMI (AP) _ A Cuban air force major defected by snorkeling to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, government officials said Wednesday.

The man, whose name was withheld by the State Department, made the swim Sunday to become the 28th Cuban defector to reach the base this year.

Miami’s Spanish-language Radio Mambo identified him as retired pilot Pablo Roque. No age was given.

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which represents the Cuban government in the absence of an embassy, said it had no information on the incident.

The defector was the the fourth Cuban military officer to make an unconventional escape from the communist Caribbean island nation this year.

Two Navy officers were picked up off the Florida Keys last week after leaving Cuba on a motorized raft, and a pilot stole a Soviet-made military helicopter in January to fly 33 relatives and friends to a suburban Miami airport.

In Costa Rica, two more Cuban doctors defected this week from their country’s medical mission in Nicaragua. Six other Cuban doctors have defected there and received political asylum.

Living conditions in Cuba have deteriorated since the collapse of the Soviet Union, whose sponsorship had counterbalanced the U.S. trade imbargo imposed after Fidel Castro took power.

Despite the communist takeover, the United States maintains the military base at Guantanamo Bay on the eastern tip of Cuba.

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