Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bolivia to deport dissident to Cuba

Bolivia to deport dissident to Cuba
Amauris Samartino had criticised the Cuban government on Bolivian radio

A Bolivian court has ruled that a Cuban dissident who criticized
improved relations between Bolivia and Cuba should be deported to the
communist country.

"This is a death sentence. Cuba is a country where people who have
different points of view, like me, don't have rights," Amauris Samartino
told reporters after hearing Wednesday's verdict.

Samartino, who arrived in Bolivia in 2000, was detained on Saturday on
charges he violated a Bolivian law prohibiting immigrants from
interfering in the South American country's internal affairs, government
officials said.

Earlier this week, state-owned Television Boliviana showed Samartino
protesting against the leftist government of president Evo Morales in
the eastern city of Santa Cruz, a bastion of the rightist opposition.

The main opposition 'We Can' party has criticized Morales, an ally of
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, for the government's moves to deport Samartino.

The decision could "give room to talk about political persecution,"
Oscar Ortiz, a senator for the We Can party said on Tuesday.

Cuban influence over Bolivia

The Cuban ambassador in La Paz, Rafael Dausa, said his government did
not ask Bolivia to detain Samartino, but acknowledged the dissident had
publicly criticized both Morales and Castro.

"He has decided to politically act out against the Cuban revolution and
the government of Bolivia," Dausa told the Red 1 TV network.

The Bolivian government says that Samartino and 11 other Cubans who
entered the country in October 2000 after fleeing to the US navy base in
Guantanamo do not have political refugee status.

This year, Castro has sent over 1,500 medical doctors to provide
healthcare in Bolivia, and Samartino has reportedly helped some of the
doctors defect to other countries.

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