Omara Ruiz Urquiola Asks That It Be Known ‘Whether the United States and Cuba are Negotiating and If So, About what’

Omara Ruiz Urquiola at Miami airport. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 10 October 2022 — Cuban dissident Omara Ruiz Urquiola, who for the third time since arriving in the United States with a tourist visa in January 2021 couldn’t board a plane to Cuba, demanded that the U.S. government be “transparent” about its policy towards the Island, in statements to EFE in Miami.

“Not only do Cubans know nothing, the American people don’t either,” Ruiz Urquiola said on the phone.

The art historian and former university professor said she had informed an official of the U.S. State Department in advance of her travel plans and reported that he informed her that her superiors were going to “intercede” for her with the Cuban authorities.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana sent a tweet about her case, but the activist complained that her discussion with the official was of no use, and this time, once again, she wasn’t able to get on the plane.

“Today, the regime again prevented Omara Ruiz Urquiola from returning to Cuba to assist her mother, whose house was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian. We urge the regime to allow all Cuban citizens to return freely to their homeland,” the diplomatic headquarters stated.

The activist accuses the U.S. government of being an accomplice of the Cuban government and Southwest Airlines for supporting the regime’s orders. However, neither airlines nor countries of origin can transport a person who is rejected by the country of destination.

Ruiz Urquiola said that she needs to travel to Cuba urgently because the family farm in Pinar del Río was “devastated” by Hurricane Ian at the end of September, and her 75-year-old mother, who lives there, is alone to take care of everything.

Omara, who is an oncology patient and has received treatment in the U.S., is the sister of Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, a human rights activist who is in Europe. He has held several protests before the UN office in Geneva and other organizations to denounce the Cuban government.

According to Omara, in January 2021, she travelled from Cuba to Miami to visit her oncologist and receive an award from the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, based in this city.

It was her fourth trip to the United States, and like the previous ones, she did it with a tourist visa that was renewed while in Miami, due to the impossibility of returning to Cuba. That visa expires in December.

Omara Ruiz Urquiola was very critical both of the Government of Cuba, for denying her the right to enter her own country, and with that of the United States, which she accuses of allowing it.

“It’s very painful to know that the great democracy of the world makes fun of us, leaves us helpless,” she said this Saturday in a video recorded in front of the Southwest counter at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, about 40 kilometres north of Miami, after being rejected as a passenger.

“I don’t have an immigration plan, I don’t have the nationality of another country nor am I an asylum seeker,” the activist stressed this Sunday to EFE, emphasizing that her house and her family are in Cuba.

Even so, she was “hopeful” that her situation can be resolved, since the United States is “a free country” and she has not violated the laws. “This is an arbitrary act,” she stressed, after demanding that it be made known whether the United States and Cuba are negotiating and, if so, about what.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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