A Cuban refugee couple living in the Czech Republic were reunited with their two children in Prague over the weekend, over a year after being separated. The couple came to the Czech Republic in the summer of 2003 and were granted political asylum in December. Their children were forced to stay in Cuba.
Saturday was one of the happiest days for 29 year-old Luiver Saborit and 32 year-old Mayda Arguelles. The Cuban couple, who are political refugees in the Czech Republic, were finally able to hug their children again, eighteen months after being separated.
Back in Cuba in 1989, Luiver Saborit wrote a thesis on state of society on the island. The government saw it as an open criticism of the Castro regime. Four years later, when pressure on dissidents became unbearable, he and his wife had little choice but to leave the country, threatened with prison. Their son Yancarlos and daughter Ivana were not allowed to leave Cuba and remained in the care of their grandparents. Mayda, who was an actress and held a job in Cuban television, was still breastfeeding little Ivana.
"A few days after our last demonstration, we received an e-mail which said that our children would be allowed to leave Cuba. I think this has happened because Cuba is now trying to ease strained relations with the European Union and would not like to see its examples of human rights violations in the spotlight."
In the past eighteen months, the couple has organised demonstrations in front of the Cuban embassy in Prague and staged several protests. In December, Luiver and Mayda threatened to go on a hunger strike. But the Cuban authorities caved in and announced the nine-year-old Yancarlo and two-year-old Ivana would be on a plane to Prague in January.
"I wish all families that are in our situation, all of the people who are being held in Cuba, would be allowed to leave the country, to be free again. Our plan now is to live a normal life and continue to fight for a free Cuba."
The reunited family hopes to start its new life in Brno, South Moravia.
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