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Mexican Rights Activist Deported

September 2, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Cuban authorities on Friday deported a Mexican security expert turned human rights activist who had been arrested when he arrived in Cuba last month, officials said.

Reynaldo Cesar Chavez Avila, 30, was picked up by security agents at Havana Airport on Aug. 4 and taken to a detention center for questioning near the Cuban capital, according to a Foreign Relations Secretariat official who said policy prevents speaking by name.

A video cassette recorder, a typewriter, a quantity of leaflets, books and two video tapes that Chavez was carrying were confiscated, the official said.

One tape was about Cuba’s prison system and the other about the Group of Four, a reference to four Cuban dissidents arrested in July 1997 for criticizing a Cuban Communist Party document.

Cuban authorities on Friday put Chavez on a plane bound for Mexico City accompanied by Mexican Ambassador Heriberto Galindo, the official said.

Chavez worked in Mexico’s Interior Secretariat as an adviser on security affairs until July 30 when he resigned to devote time to a human rights group called La Otra Cuba, or ``The Other Cuba.″

The Other Cuba advocates greater individual freedoms on the island. Some of the group’s materials list Chavez as a member of its board of directors.

Mexican consular officials in Havana have been in contact with Chavez and reported he is in good health and is being treated well, the official said, but refused to give further details.

Mexico has traditionally maintained close ties with Cuba, and is the only country in Latin America that never bowed to U.S. pressure to break diplomatic ties with the communist government.

But President-elect Vicente Fox, elected July 2, has suggested that Mexico may be more vocal in calling for Castro’s government to liberalize Cuba, both economically and politically.

Officials at the Interior Secretariat said Chavez worked as both an adviser and analyst for Jorge Tello Peon, undersecretary for public security. The secretariat’s duties include overseeing security and civilian intelligence gathering.

Tello Peon told reporters Thursday night that he had heard Chavez was arrested in Cuba but had no idea what he was doing there. ``We don’t know what was the purpose of his trip or the contacts he had there,″ he said.

``Categorically, the Interior Secretariat is in no way connected what he was doing there,″ secretariat spokesman Roberto Santiago added. ``We do not know what his personal reasons were for going to Cuba.″

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