14ymedio, Havana, 4 June 2020 — The flight announced organized by Russia, by which Cubans stranded in the country could return to the Island, arrived in Havana last night, but only 23 of the 83 passengers who got off at José Martí International Airport were trapped tourists. The bulk of the group was made up of 43 Cuban students with scholarships in Russia and another 17 were civil servants. At least 60 people remain in Moscow without finding and solutions to return home.
The plane, which left this Wednesday from the Russian capital to Havana, later left for Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile where it left the rest of the passage and picked up the Russians who remain in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
Later it will return to Havana for the 70 Russians who are still stranded on the Island since the partial closure of the borders that came into effect on April 2 — as part of the measures to stop coronavirus infections.. The trip will culminate on June 6, with the aircraft landing in Moscow with 200 Russians on board.
The consul in the Russian capital, Eduardo Lázaro Escandell, said that a hundred Cubans requested to return but not all of them were able to pay for a ticket.
The price of 43,726 rubles (about $ 630) has been an insurmountable obstacle for many of those wanting to return home.
Russian Anna Voronkova and Pedro Luis García from Havana, already known as the angel of the Cubans in Moscow, mobilized to achieve the return of the islanders. “The Cuban authorities are not helping their citizens in any way. We are the volunteers, the Russians and foreigners, who are concerned about the Cubans,” Voronkova told 14ymedio.
The young woman contacted Veronika Birman, a Russian businesswoman who works in tourism, with whom she tried to find help, but there was no collaboration from the Cuban consulate.
María Zajárova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, was the one who made her team available to the volunteers to advance their exit, according to Sputnik, and managed, after many efforts, to get three of the four humanitarian passages, at half price. They focused on people with chronic diseases and a pregnant woman.
Birman acknowledges that the support of the airline and Anastasia Dyumulen, director of the airline’s information and communications policy department, was essential.
“We tried to get those 4 and even more to go. The company and the Russian Foreign Ministry were willing to consider the possibility of giving some free humanitarian places, but it was not possible to coordinate in time due to misunderstandings with another party involved,” explained Voronkova to Sputnik.
But they still have at least 60 pending cases.
The Russian government sent a batch of 15,000 tests for the detection of the coronavirus to Havana to contribute to the fight against the pandemic, according to a statement from the Cuban Embassy in Moscow.
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