Home South AmericaEcuador "traitors" for the regime, the two Cubans who fled on a hang glider obtain asylum in the US

"traitors" for the regime, the two Cubans who fled on a hang glider obtain asylum in the US

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The Government of the United States granted political asylum to the two Cubans who they landed in the florida keys on a powered hang glider last March. David López Alfonso and Ismael Hernández Chirino must remain up to ten more days in the Krome migrant prison in Miami, waiting for the judge who granted them international protection to issue a written sentence.

According to the journalist of the Univisión channel Daniel Benitezthe pilots “won their cases”, and although there is a possibility that the US Attorney’s Office will challenge the sentence, it is likely that they will not make any appeals.

This newspaper had access to various testimonies offered to the asylum court by legal experts, including those of the lawyer Siro del Castillo, who presented a contextualization of the López and Hernández case before the court. The defense team, led by lawyer Wilfredo Allen, also collaborated with the director of the Cubalex organization, Laritza Diversent.

In his testimony, Del Castillo reminded the court that the Cuban government would show no mercy to both pilots and that the regime’s press had launched a campaign to demand their deportation. López and Hernández left Tarará, in Havana, in an ultralight hang glider, of the Trike type, with registration number CU-U 1619, and which was used for the recreation of foreign tourists.

In his testimony, Del Castillo reminded the court that the Cuban government would show no mercy to both pilots and that the regime’s press had launched a campaign to demand their deportation.

The Cuban Aviation Club – an entity, the lawyer pointed out, directed by former spy René González, “who at the time traveled to the United States with a plane that was stolen from Cuba” – argued that the action of the pilots was a “desertion”, and requested “the corresponding sanctions due to the seriousness of the case and the return of the stolen equipment”.

Del Castillo stressed that both the Aviation Club and the Civil Aeronautics Institute – which regulates Cuban airspace – are institutions that answer directly to the Island’s Government, to demonstrate which he quotes González himself when he affirms that the Club “recognizes the political orientation of the Cuban State and its Constitution”.

There is, therefore, a relationship of “dependency” between the regime and the aeronautical institutions, according to the expert, which has led them to sign statements, for example, in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This link, Del Castillo suggests, discredits the authority of the Aviation Club regarding moral claims such as the one it claims in the case of López and Hernández.

Lastly, and citing the former spy again, Del Castillo argues the danger that both pilots will find themselves in if they return to a country where they are considered political “enemies”: “It is very difficult to make a revolution without having to guillotine someone. It is important that the guillotine is not the main instrument. Every revolution generates a counterrevolution and it has to defend itself,” González said publicly in 2018, as noted by the lawyer.

The Cuban pilots, Del Castillo concluded, will not have the opportunity of a fair defense in Cuba, where they have already been classified as “traitors” by the highest official instances, for whom the Constitution of the Republic itself calls for “the most severe sanctions.” Both the fact that they stole a state air vehicle and their relationship with the tourist sphere are, the lawyer considers, aggravating in his case and could lead to “higher prison sentences.”

Both pilots were part of the Cuban border guard corps during their Active Military Service, driving vehicles similar to the hang glider with which they escaped from the country.

Both pilots were part of the Cuban border guard corps during their Active Military Service, driving vehicles similar to the hang glider with which they escaped the country. “It would not be surprising if the Cuban authorities, to give more weight to the accusation of ‘traitors’ with a claim for a maximum sentence against López and Hernández, accusing them of having passed on to the United States authorities, information about the air patrol system on the coasts of Cuba, which would allow the government prosecutor’s office on the island to accuse both of revealing secrets concerning the security of the State,” says the lawyer.

The judge was convinced, among other arguments, with the affirmation that the action of López and Hernández “was motivated solely and exclusively by their desire to live in freedom,” as “hundreds of Cubans” have done in recent decades, ” using boats and even planes owned by the Government”.

The latter was the case Ruben Martinez Machadoa Cuban who managed to escape in a Russian-made Antonov plane on October 21, and land at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport, located in the middle of the Everglades. The 29-year-old was a pilot for the Cuban Company of Air Services, belonging to the Cuban Aviation Corporation, and left the Island through Sancti Spíritus.

Customs agents questioned the pilot as soon as he landed and he was immediately taken into the custody of the authorities. Martínez is currently free after a judge granted him political asylum.

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