Felipe Calderón: "I Ask The Cuban Government To Rectify This Absurdity"
14ymedio, Havana, 22 February 2017 — Just five years ago, Mexican
President Felipe Calderón was greeted warmly in Havana during an
official visit. However, this week the now former president was denied
entry to the island to participate in the Oswaldo Payá "Freedom and
Life" awards to be held this Wednesday.
"I deeply regret not being able to be with them at this tribute" to the
deceased opponent, the politician conservative National Action Party
(PAN). "The Cuban immigration authorities asked Aeromexico" not to seat
me on the flight, telling them I was an "inadmissible passenger" on Tuesday.
Prior to the trip, the former president alerted the Mexican Foreign
Ministry of his intention, because he did not want to "arrive as if he
were a tourist." He reported on his departure to Cuba's ambassador to
Mexico, Pedro Núñez, and his country's representative in Havana, Enrique
This is the first time that the Plaza of the Revolution has prevented a
former Mexican president from entering the country, an event that has
raised a diplomatic dust storm, including a tweet from the Mexican
Foreign Ministry in which he "regrets the decision of the Government of
Cuba not to authorize the visit to Havana of former President Felipe
Calderón recalls that he supported "Oswaldo Payá many years ago without
having met him, by spreading the Varela Project and collecting
signatures in Mexico for him." In those years he saw "with great sadness
how the Cubans involved in the project were persecuted."
The politician evokes with special aggravation the Black Spring of 2003
and his indignation to learn that 75 dissidents had been arrested and
sentenced to long prison terms under the so-called Gag Law.
In one of his previous visits to the island, Calderón asked President
Raúl Castro to let him speak with Oswaldo Payá, leader of the Christian
Liberation Movement (MCL). However, "the Cuban government always
resisted," he recalls. He believes that the "diplomatic complications
obstructed" this longed-for encounter.
"I ask the Cuban government to rectify this absurdity," said the former
president, who maintains his idea of meeting "with Oswaldo's family"
whom he admired for being "an example of congruence, civility and love
The former Chilean foreign minister Mariana Aylwin experienced a similar
situation on Wednesday when she was prevented from boarding a flight
from her country to participate in the ceremony where a posthumous
recognition will be made to her father, Patricio Aylwin, the first
president under democracy in Chile after the dictatorship of Augusto
The Chilean Foreign Ministry said that the government "will make the
Cuban authorities aware of their displeasure at this action" because the
purpose of Mariana Aylwin's trip "was to receive from a civic
organization the testimony of recognition of her father… The exercise of
this right should not be impeded, especially when in Chile there have
been various acknowledgments of Cuban historical and political figures."
According to Rosa María Payá, Uruguayan Luis Almagro, Secretary General
of the Organization of American States (OAS), has confirmed his presence
at the event today to receive the Freedom and Life Award for his
"outstanding performance in defense of democracy," although he has not
made a statement on the matter.
The award ceremony, which is due to be held on Wednesday, is being led
by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, an organization
headed by Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late dissident.
Nationally, the government also prevented independent journalists Sol
García Basulto and Henry Constantin from Camagüey from traveling to
Havana, where they planned to fly to attend the award ceremony. The
Inter American Press Association (IAPA), of which Constantin is regional
vice president for Cuba, issued a protest statement demanding the
release of the reporter, who until yesterday remained detained.
Source: Felipe Calderón: "I Ask The Cuban Government To Rectify This
Absurdity" / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -