Thursday, October 27, 2005

Over 20 Cuban choir singers defect in Canada

Over 20 Cuban choir singers defect in Canada
Thursday, October 27, 2005

MONTREAL, Canada (AFP): Over half the 40-member National Chorus of Cuba
defected in Toronto and requested refugee status in the middle of a
two-week tour of Canada, an official of the Canada-Cuba Foundation said

"More than 20 people, out of a total of 40, have deserted, including the
deputy leader of the delegation," Ismael Sambra, president of the
foundation, told AFP.

The defectors slipped out of their Toronto hotel Sunday prior to the
group's scheduled departure for Vancouver, he said.

Sambra's statements could not be verified with Canadian authorities.

"I do not have any information for the moment," said Patrizia Giolti of
the Canada Border Services Agency in Toronto.

According to Sambra, himself a Cuban writer living in exile in Canada,
the defectors were fleeing "the untenable situation in Cuba, the
repression. They are sick of being slaves, the workers for the regime,
in addition to being poorly paid."

The official leader of the chorus, Digna Guerra, had "threatened" group
members against defecting, he said.

"They were warned that their families could face retaliation if they
decided to flee," Sambra said.

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