Thursday, August 20, 2009

Son of revolutionary hero seeks exit permit (updated)

Juan Almeida García. Photo credit: El Nuevo Herald

Juan Almeida García, son of revolutionary comandante Juan Almeida Bosque, was detained Thursday "as he strolled through Revolution Square with a sign that said he wanted an exit permit to leave the country," according to Cuban Colada, a Miami Herald blog about Cuba.

The blog said Almeida:
was released a couple of hours later with a promise that his request will be answered.
Almeida was arrested May 6 after attempting to flee in a boat and given supervised parole. Since 2006, he has asked the authorities repeatedly for an exit permit that would enable him to seek medical treatment abroad for a rheumatoid disease he has had for years. His wife and daughter live in the United States.
Almeida's 82-year-old father is Vice President of the Council of State. He's one of the heroes of the Cuban revolution and led a rebel contingent in Santiago de Cuba.

Comandante Juan Almeida Bosque on Aug. 1

Three leaders of the Cuban revolution. From left, Raul Castro, Juan Almeida and Fidel Castro. Source of photo: Spartacus Educational
Wikipedia says Almeida is also head of Cuba's National Association of Veterans and Combatants of the Revolution. More photos of Almeida from his revolutionary days are here.

Raul Castro with Juan Almeida

I read Almeida's letters on El Nuevo Herald's Web site. They give me a better understanding of why he wants to travel to the U.S. He said he had been asking for an exit permit for five years, but has not gotten an answer. As he waited this summer, he said his mother-in-law in the U.S. died of cancer. He also says he has a skin condition that he says requires treatment abroad.

So he took the rare step of protesting in public.

I wonder why the government wouldn't let him leave. There must be more to the story.

Update: Indeed, there's more to the story. Almeida wrote a book critical of Cuba's political elites. A Spanish publisher is selling it online. The book cover is below.

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