14ymedio/EFE, Madrid, 31 October 2022 — Rubén Martínez Machado, the Cuban pilot who arrived in Florida last Friday, October 21, after leaving Cuba in a Russian-made Antonov aircraft, must remain detained for the time being, according to his lawyer, Eduardo Soto.
The 29-year-old Cuban had his first appearance today before an Immigration Court in Pompano Beach, Florida, which decided to keep him in the Broward County detention centre, at least until his next appointment next week.
In today’s hearing, according to Telemundo, the judge didn’t set bail for Martínez because the Prosecutor’s Office wasn’t ready to present its case.
“It seems to me that he has a very good case, but I’m not the one who has the last word,” Soto told EFE last week, after pointing out that both he and his defendant are confident about obtaining a positive verdict on the asylum application in court.
This Monday, Maile Díaz, a close friend of the pilot, who doesn’t have relatives in Miami, told Telemundo that if the young man “sets foot in Cuba, he’ll never see the sun again.”
“He will always be persecuted by the Government. He has now betrayed the State and stolen a very important piece of equipment,” added the woman, saying that Martínez’s mother “is desperate.”
Martínez was a pilot for the Cuban Air Services Company, which belongs to the Cuban Aviation Corporation, and he left the Island from Sancti Spíritus. He took a selfie next to the plane when he arrived at Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport in Florida.
The customs agents interrogated the pilot as soon as he landed and placed him in the custody of the authorities, who later took him to the prison, where he remains.
His lawyer pointed out at the end of last week that Martínez feared being returned to the Island, due to the serious danger this would pose to his life, so he is applying for political asylum.
“In Mr. Martínez’s case, they will put him directly before an immigration judge, and he will have the right to seek asylum without having to establish a credible fear,” Soto told the Miami press.
The pilot is accused of illegal entry into the United States; in Cuba he is accused of air piracy.
On the Island, his relatives have sent their best wishes to the young man. “The only thing I want is that you fulfill your dream and that you can stay there. I am happy because I know that you are well and you are where you wanted to be,” said Elsa Padrón, his 85-year-old grandmother, according to Univision.
“I am very grateful to all the people and lawyers for what they have done for you,” his aunt, Diana Rosa Machado, told Noticias 23.
Much more critical was his mother, Elisa Machado Padrón, a worker at the Villa Clara Electric Company, who confirmed the illegal departure of her son by taking the plane. “I do not approve of his decision, but above all he is still my son,” she said.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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