Nine Cubans Seeking Political Asylum in the EU Get Caught Up in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

The migrants have been held since January 6 at the migration center located in Nikolayev, Ukraine. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 4 March 2022 — Early this Thursday morning, at 3:45 a.m. “the explosion of a bomb woke us up,” Diosdeny Santana told 14ymedio. “Here it is already afternoon and the whole day we have heard bombings.” This activist from the opposition Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) has been held since January 6 along with eight other Cubans in the migration center located in Nikolayev, Ukraine.

On February 24, just the day they were going to be transferred to Serbia to continue their journey in search of “political asylum in Italy, Spain or Germany,” Russia began the military deployment against Ukraine. “The war has caught us here,” says this 37-year-old Cuban. “Civil aviation is stopped dead and there is no transport,” the authorities have informed them.

“We know that there is a military attack and that it is Russian,” explains Santana, who has sent América TeVé and Telemundo videos with fighter planes flying over and bombing near the place where they are. “What we hear, from what little we understand, is that this place is surrounded by Russians.”

On last Wednesday, Russian troops increased the pressure on the siege on Mariupol, a strategic city located in the Donetsk region and bathed by the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov, as is the case with Nikolayev, while they already control Melitopol, in the region of Zaporozhie, published EFE.

“We trust that some government will listen to us and help us leave, the Cuban exile in Miami, human rights,” implores Santana, who on October 27, 2021, left the island via Moscow, because “I couldn’t travel to the United States because of the covid problem in Cuba.”

The group, made up of José Antonio González Corralez, Luis Arberto González Pérez, Yosiel Hernández Ramírez, Luis Miguel Reyes Romero, Raicel Sedeño, Iris Dali Tobal, María Fernanda and Rannelys Trujillo Gort, is gripped by fear and nerves, says the activist. “We have the suitcase packed, because we have to run to the tunnel every time a siren is heard.”

José Antonio González, who emigrated the same day as Santana, tells 14ymedio that after entering Ukraine they were “detained by the border guard in Kharkov, the country’s second largest city, because fatigue and the cold got the best of us. In the end After seven days we went on trial and each one of us was fined 400 dollars.”

The nine migrants, González explains, were taken to a second trial where a translator was assigned to them. They warned them not to ask for political asylum during this process, “that this would be in the refuge they would send us to later” and in which they would have a lawyer.

Originally from Pinar del Río, this 36-year-old Cuban says that this Friday they sent a letter to Amnesty International and another human rights organization. “They have just informed us that there is a truce,” he says, referring to the humanitarian corridors agreed by Moscow and Kiev in the negotiations, “but they do not know how long it will last. At any moment they start attacking and this turns into hell. We fear for our lives. We want them to help us get out and we continue on our way.”

González left the island months after having participated in the demonstrations of July 11 and before the police siege. “We are good people. We are not murderers, if we leave Cuba it is because of the regime.”

The activist Diosdeny Santana, who has been in prison for expressing his opposition to a government that for “62 years has been destroying its people,” points out that Cubans do not emigrate for pleasure. “On July 11, people took to the streets demanding freedom, homeland and life. And the dictatorship sent out its people to repress them.”

That way of showing itself as a repressive dictatorship, Santana assures, is the same that it has exhibited before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “This is terrible. Maduro in Venezuela, Ortega in Nicaragua and Cuba are on Putin’s side.”


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