03/01/13 - Agencia de Información Nacional (Habana) - Cuban Foreign Ministry Responds to US Statements
HAVANA, Cuba, March 1 (acn) Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a
declaration in response to statements by US authorities about their denial
of consular visits to Cuban anti-terrorist Rene Gonzalez, who is under
probation on US territory after having met a 13-year prison sentence.
The statement issued by Josefina Vidal, director of the United States
division at the Foreign Ministry, reads that following the publication of a
statement by that entity on Wednesday on a new outrage against one of the
five Cubans held in the United States, a US State Department official made
statements on the issue and asked EFE news agency not to reveal his name.
The EFE article, dated February 28, said that the United States admitted
its denial of consular visits to Rene Gonzalez due to what the information
cites as reciprocal travel restrictions. In the article in Spanish, under
the headline: "EEUU: Visitas consulares a cubano René González se denegaron
por reciprocidad," the agency cited an unidentified State Department
official as saying that both, the US Interest Section in Havana and the
Cuban Interest Section in Washington are subject to reciprocal travel
"Cubans do not allow us to travel out of Havana without previous
authorization, so we respond with the same restriction here."
"The problem is that the (Cuban) Interest Section is not allowed to travel
out of Washington and Gonzalez is in Florida," said the US official. "If
they allow us to travel out of Havana, they will be allowed to visit him."
The Spanish news agency also said that, according to the State Department's
statement, Gonzalez may travel to Washington to meet with Cuban officials
if those in charge of his supervised freedom allow him to travel.
In response to these statements, the director of the United States division
at Cuba's Foreign Ministry said that the US Interest Section in Havana
(USINT) invariably receives permits for travel out of the capital city to
visit US inmates and Cubans naturalized in the United States, who are
meeting sentences in any Cuban region. Over the past months, US officials,
including the USINT chief, have carried out consular visits in the
provinces of Matanzas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Artemisa and Mayabeque,
said the Cuban official.
"We do not know what kind of reciprocity they are talking about, because
all travel permits to carry out consular visits by the USINT have been
authorized with no exception," said the Foreign Ministry official.
However, she said, since September 2012, the (US) State Department has
denied all requests presented by consular officials from the Cuban Interest
Section in Washington to travel and visit Rene Gonzalez, in open violation
of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The US authorities have also denied Rene Gonzalez his recent requests for
permit to travel out of the area where he is meeting the additional
sanction of supervised freedom, which keeps him unfairly far from his wife,
who is not allowed to visit him either, said Josefina Vidal in her
statement issued on February 28.
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