AP reports that Bolivias’ planned deportation of Cuban dissident Amauris Sanmartino has caught the attention of U.S. officials.
LA PAZ, Bolivia – A government human rights monitor on Tuesday called for the government to halt the deportation of a Cuban dissident critical of President Evo Morales’ ties to Havana, saying the move could hurt Bolivia’s image abroad.
Dr. Amauris Sanmartino, a Cuban who holds permanent residence status in Bolivia, was arrested Saturday in the eastern lowland city of Santa Cruz under a 1996 law forbidding immigrants to be involved in Bolivian politics.
”This case could affect the image of Bolivia,” said Public Defender Walter Albarracín, whose office has sought to block Sanmartino’s deportation to Cuba. “Beyond whether someone thinks one way or another, here in Bolivia we live in a state of law, and we must be very careful with that state of law.”
Albarracín confirmed that Sanmartino had fled from Cuba to Bolivia in 2000 with the help of the United States. But the Morales administration says that Sanmartino does not hold refugee status.
U.S. officials are keeping a close eye on the case, which has caught the attention of the Cuban exile community thousands of miles north in Miami.
”We are aware of Mr. Sanmartino’s case and we are in contact with the Bolivian government about it,” read a brief statement released Tuesday by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz. “In addition to local law, we believe that this case involves international conventions and agreements to which Bolivia is a signatory.”
Yesterdays hearing ended when Sanmartino required treatment for heart problems. So far, I haven’t found notice when the hearing will continue.
As Mora reported yesterday, Bolivia is the recipient of $120 million in U.S. aid. If you have not already done so please contact USAID and ask them to insist that Bolivia obey international law and release Dr. Sanmarino.
Update: Bad news, from Yahoonews:
LA PAZ (Reuters) – A Bolivian court ruled on Wednesday 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 the verdict.
Update 2: El Nuevo Herald reports that Sanmarino attorney will appeal, also legally he could be sent back to Guantanamo. A su vez, el dirigente y vocero de Podemos Jose Arquipa dijo a la AP que “Sanmartino es el primer preso político de (Evo) Morales”.