14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 February 2022 — Experts consulted by 14ymedio have found no precedent for the government to have vetoed the entry of a Cuban citizen residing in Cuba, as happened this Wednesday with the art curator and activist Anamely Ramos, who was unable to board her American Airlines flight bound for Havana.
The director of the Miami airport, with whom Ramos met after expressing her intention to stay at the terminal if she was not allowed to travel to Cuba, assured the media gathered at the scene that it is the first time he has encountered such a case.
Lawyer Eloy Viera recalls, in statements to 14ymedio, that other Cubans went through a similar situation, but the “particularity” in this case is that Anamely Ramos “has not lost her rights, because she has not been outside of Cuba for more than 24 months.”
Cuban law establishes that if a national remains outside the country continuously for more than two years, he loses his residence and, with it, he also loses his rights, such as voting or medical assistance. Many émigrés have been prevented from entering the country for this reason.
“I’ll go to a public place and will camp out, because I don’t have a home right now, I don’t have a country. I’m not going to anyone’s house who wants to take me in, nor do I want to ask for asylum”
However, the case of Anamely Ramos is different, since she has not lost her rights. The decision to veto her entry in Cuba is clearly a “repressive” act that sends “a very clear political message: no Cuban is safe and, once she leaves, her return to Cuba can be prevented.”
“There is a rupture in what has happened with Anamely,” he argues, because “she has no other place to legally regularize herself and her only legal foothold was Cuba. Even so, they decided to deny her entry.”
In this regard, the lawyer mentions the case of the activist Lidier Hernández Sotolongo, a Cuban resident in Uruguay, who was not prevented from entering, but who was regulated once he was in Cuba. And precisely, he points out, “one of the arguments used by officials in that case was that legal Cuban residents could not be prevented from entering but they could be prevented from leaving.”
After a meeting with Miami airport authorities and with American Airlines employees, Ramos reiterated that her interest was to stay at the airport to “apply pressure.” However, the director himself warned her that this was not allowed and accompanied her to a meeting with immigration authorities.
“They have treated me very well,” the activist acknowledged in a direct broadcast. “I’ll go to a public place and will camp out, because I don’t have a home right now, I don’t have a country. I’m not going to anyone’s house who wants to take me in, nor do I want to ask for asylum.”
In a live broadcast on her Facebook profile, she explained that the airline did not specify the reasons why the regime had denied her entry, and that they simply told her that “there is a protocol with Cuba and with all the countries of the world” that they “have to abide by.”
The fact that Ramos complied with all the legal and health requirements to re-enter Cuba suggests that the Cuban government activated Article 24 of the Migration Law. This limits the entry into the national territory to “every person” who, among other activities that are considered illegal, organizes, stimulates, carries out or participates in “hostile actions against the political, economic and social foundations of the Cuban State.”
This article establishes other assumptions, such as “National Defense and Security reasons” or “being declared undesirable or expelled.”
“Cuba’s border has to continue to be in Cuba,” she said. “It cannot be at the American Airlines gate, that is inadmissible”
This Cuban norm violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its Article 13, which recognizes the right “to move freely and choose one’s residence in the territory of a State” and “to leave any country, including one’s own, and to return to one’s country.”
For Viera, Article 24 is a mechanism “that increases the administrative discretion the regime” has, when deciding “without the need to substantiate or notify” the affected person. “The fundamental problem with this is that the decision is made behind people’s backs. They only find out if they are about to board a plane to Cuba. They are overseas without the administrative authorities having notified them through a resolution or a document that they could use at a later date in a judicial environment,” he added.
In addition, he believes that it is “outrageous from any legal point of view” even from the way the article is written. “The term used is ‘undesirable.’ Who wishes that a person may access Cuba, who is that authority, under what criteria?” questions Viera, who assures that this way of formulating “what it does is favor arbitrariness and the discretionary, and generate defenselessness in the person who suffers it and has no way to fight it.”
In statements to the press gathered at the international terminal, Ramos denounced the attitude of the airline. “Cuba’s border has to continue to be in Cuba,” he said. “It cannot be located at the American Airlines gate. That’s inadmissible.”
This Wednesday afternoon, Ramos left the airport and explained that, according to the regulations, “nobody can stay who is not going to board a plane” and American Airlines maintains its decision not to let her board a flight to Cuba. “I will continue the protest in a public space, in front of the Versailles [restaurant]. This is to be continued. My demand continues to be that my #RightToReturn be respected.”
Translated by Norma Whiting
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