Posts Tagged ‘El Dorado’

Colombia: When El Dorado is the gateway to freedom

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Note:
All links except Carlos Eire‘s are in Spanish.

Like something out of The Terminal (video in Spanish):

Six Cubans Ask for Asylum in Colombia, Remain in Airport Limbo

Their names are Ángel, Briam, Edualdo, Greisy, Yoanker and Nayip, and they say in unison: “Nosotros no nos vamos para Cuba, queremos quedarnos en Bogotá” (We won’t return to Cuba, we want to stay in Bogotá).

All six –one woman and six men — are under the age of 41, as their Castro era names attest, and they have been asking for asylum since the first of the year.

The would-be refugees have been camping out in the airport, refusing to move, rejecting all offers to fly them back to Castrogonia. The Colombian government, in turn, has refused them asylum, and now the United Nations is getting involved.

How they got into this predicament is still being figured out. And no one seems to know how it will be resolved.

They claim that they left Castrogonia for Ecuador with all of the right papers, but were refused entry. After arguing their case for six days at the airport in Ecuador, they were sent back to the Castro Kingdom via Colombia, but when they reached the Bogotá airport they refused to board their flight back to the slave plantation.

Five other Cubans returned to Havana.

The Colombian government declined asylum since the Cubans had not filed a formal application while they remained at El Dorado airport in Bogota (link in Spanish – my translation, please link & credit me if you use it):

The Ministry’s statement said that the refugees’ intention to seek asylum, which they have expressed through the media, “can not be processed” since Colombian law directly prohibits it when it involves foreigners in international transit zones. “According to the law, they haven’t entered national territory,” it explained.

According to the statement, “Colombian Immigration has had no access to their passports” since they are in the international transit zone.

When I first read about this, my question was, is there a Colombian immigration lawyer who would be willing to take their case (most likely on a pro bono basis)? If they have legal representation, would they be able to apply for asylum?

Yes.

This morning Colombian daily El Universal reports that Colombian Immigration has granted the six Cubans safe-conduct for five working days so they can file a formal asylum request through the Foreign Relations Ministry. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is filing the application and transferred them to a shelter.

There may be a happy ending to this story!

Related:
Jaime Bayly interviewed Andrés Carrión, the Cuban dissident who hollered “Down with Communism” during Pope Benedict’s 2012 visit to Cuba (in Spanish), which highlights the importance of garnering international attention:

UPDATE:
Linked to by Carlos. Thank you!