The Bolivian government has announced plans to deport a prominent Cuban dissident who publicly criticized President Evo Morales' close ties to Havana. Dr. Amauris Sanmartino, a Cuban who holds permanent residence status in Bolivia, will be expelled under a 1996 law forbidding immigrants from criticizing the government.
Sanmartino was arrested Saturday in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, a center of anti-Morales opposition, and later transferred to the Bolivian capital of La Paz. He will be flown home to Cuba once his case has been processed, the statement said.
Sanmartino's wife, Normina Chávez, told reporters that she was walking with her husband near their home when five heavily armed individuals who claimed to be police officers, forced the doctor into a pickup truck after telling him that he was under arrest. The five individuals wore civilian clothes and didn't present any official documents identifying them as police officers.
If the Bolivian government deports Dr. Sanmartino to Cuba, it will be in violation of Article 33 of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which clearly states: "Prohibition of expulsion or return ("refoulement") 1. No Contracting State shall expel or return ("refouler") a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom could be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of particular social group or political opinion."
Opposition leaders on Santa Cruz have decried Sanmartino`s arrest and say they will ask Bolivia’s public defender's office to block the expulsion. Sanmartino was one of a group of Cuban dissidents who fled to Bolivia in 2000, but the Bolivian government is now claiming that Sanmartino does not hold refugee status.
The Bolivian government accepted the refugees in 2000 at the request of the US government. Cuban exiles are afraid that if Dr. Sanmartino is sent back, thousands of Cubans, who are now living in countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador which have governments that sympathize with the Cuban dictator will run the same risk of being deported.
Please, we need your help to try to stop Evo Morales from sending this Cuban doctor to Cuba where he will face a long jail sentence or probable execution. Contact the Bolivian Embassy in your country and ask them not to become a participant in this crime.
Also, send a message to the Foreign Minister: David Choquehuanca Cespedes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click Here to find the e-mail and telephone numbers for the Bolivian embassy in your Country.
Información en español hacienda CLIC AQUI
Photo: Dr. Amauri Sanmartino Flores.