Monday, November 30, 2009

Son of Cuban revolutionary hero reported detained

Posted on Monday, 11.30.09
Son of Cuban revolutionary hero reported detained
Associated Press Writer

HAVANA -- The ailing son of one of Cuba's revolutionary heroes has been
detained by security officials after protesting that authorities won't
let him leave the country for treatment, a human rights leader on the
island said Monday.

Juan Almeida Garcia, whose father fought alongside Fidel Castro during
Cuba's 1959 revolution and rose to the level of vice president before
his death this year, was taken into custody Friday while on his way to a
protest in central Havana, said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the
independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

Sanchez told The Associated Press that Almeida is being held at the
Villa Marista jail in the capital.

"We assume he is not going to be freed (soon) ... The family has been
told that they cannot visit him until Thursday," Sanchez said.

There was no immediate comment from the government. Nobody answered
calls made to Almeida's home.

Almeida's father, Juan Almeida Bosque, was a member of Cuba's ruling
elite, sitting on the Communist Party's Politburo and serving as a vice
president on the Council of State, the country's supreme governing body.

When he died in September at the age of 82, he was given honors
befitting his title as a "commander of the revolution," with a ceremony
at Revolution Plaza led by President Raul Castro and attended by tens of
thousands of mourners.

But it has been a different story for the younger Almeida, 43, who has
been arrested at least twice now for trying to leave the country for
treatment for ankylosing spondylitis, a painful, progressive form of
spinal arthritis.

His previous detention was brief, but Sanchez said a quick release was
less likely now that his powerful father had passed away.

"He's an orphan," Sanchez quipped.

Almeida is not the first relative of Cuba's ruling elite to try to leave
Cuba. Fidel Castro's daughter Alina snuck out of Cuba in 1993 using a
false passport, and eventually settled in Miami, becoming a fierce
critic of her father's rule.

The younger Almeida is a lawyer who had worked for state security within
the Interior Ministry in the 1990s, according to Sanchez. He was
reportedly seeking to travel to the United States for treatment at
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

While Cubans are allowed to leave the island, they must first seek an
exit visa. Doctors, scientists and other key personnel, as well as the
relatives of leaders in sensitive military or political positions, are
often denied permission for fear they will not return.

Son of Cuban revolutionary hero reported detained - World AP - (30 November 2009)

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