CUBA. TWO POLISH MEMBERS OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BARRED FROM ENTERING COUNTRY TO PARTICIPATE IN DISSIDENT ASSEMBLY
May 17, 2005: two Polish members of the European Parliament who planned to attend a dissident meeting in Cuba were denied entry by the island's Communist authorities and sent back to Europe. Boguslaw Sonik and Jacek Protasiewicz arrived in Cuba on May 17 and were denied entry by immigration officials at the airport of Varadero, Cuba's top beach resort.
"The legislators were traveling on private passports and had tourist visas," the Polish consul in Havana, Piotr Turzanski, said. "They were not arrested and told to re-board" the same plane they arrived on, he said.
Sonik and Protasiewicz were invited to attend a meeting that opponents ofÂ President Fidel Castro planned to hold in Havana on May 20 to push for a transition to democracy in Cuba.
Sonik said they were ejected despite their status as diplomats. "Despite the fact that we showed our diplomatic passports, they ejected us out of Cuba where we went to as tourists to take part in a meeting of Havana citizens," he told Reuters in Warsaw.
It was uncertain whether the Cuban government would allow the meeting, called by dissident economist Martha Beatriz Roque.
Other European legislators planned to attend the meeting by Roque's Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, an umbrella organization of dozens of small dissident groups. Spanish ConvergĂ¨ncia i UniĂł MP and Hands Off Cain member Isola Jordi XuclĂ had arrived on the island for the Assembly. ( Reuters, Adn, 18/05/2005; NtC, 19/05/2005)