Dissidents in Cuba
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June 2007
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Cuban dissident visits Miami family

Posted on Thu, Jun. 07, 2007

Cuban dissident visits Miami family
A maverick Cuban activist who angered many exiles by going back to Cuba
in 2003 has returned to Miami for a visit.

Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, the 72-year-old unorthodox Cuban dissident who
shocked the traditional exile community in 2003 when he abruptly decided
to return to the island, was back in Miami — but only for a family visit.

He told The Miami Herald in a brief telephone conversation this week
that he returned to see his family in South Florida because the current
U.S. travel policy to Cuba makes it difficult for his family to visit him.

''The embargo impedes the frequent visits of relatives to Cuba,''
Gutiérrez Menoyo told The Miami Herald by phone on Tuesday. “It's
really due to the travel restrictions that I'm here.''

In 2004, the Bush administration tightened travel limits for U.S.
citizens and residents who have relatives in Cuba, allowing travel to
the island only once every three years — instead of once annually.

On Aug. 7, 2003, Gutiérrez Menoyo, his wife and three school-age sons
were leaving Havana to return to South Florida after a short visit when
he suddenly announced he would stay behind to form a political party and
peacefully oppose Fidel Castro.

Gutiérrez Menoyo said it was his second ''lightning visit'' to Miami
since the travel restrictions took effect. He stopped here in July 2004
en route to Havana after a visit to his native Spain.

He would not answer other questions about his life in Cuba, saying he
had little time left before ending the Miami visit. A family member told
The Miami Herald that Gutiérrez Menoyo planned to leave today.

Ernesto Díaz, secretary general of the militant exile organization Alpha
66, which Gutiérrez Menoyo helped found in the 1960s, said his former
friend ''made a mistake'' returning to Cuba and “has lost the respect
of the Cuban exile community which feels betrayed because it once had
faith in him.''

Originally, Gutiérrez Menoyo was one of Castro's chieftains in 1959 but
broke ranks when Castro would not allow other political parties, free
speech or other democratic reforms the revolution was supposed to deliver.

In the phone conversation, Gutiérrez Menoyo said he had no trouble with
immigration authorities on arrival.

In late 2004, Gutiérrez Menoyo told friends in Miami that he had
received a letter from the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the
Treasury Department warning that his presence in Cuba could cost him his
U.S. residence, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Molly Millerwise, a Treasury spokeswoman, told The Miami Herald in an
e-mail that she could not comment on “individual cases.''.

Zachary Mann, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Miami, said
he could not discuss the matter.

How Gutiérrez Menoyo, a Spanish citizen who was a U.S. green-card
holder, entered the United States was not known.

Spanish visitors generally do not need U.S. visas.

Eric Watnik, a State Department spokesman, said there was ''no record of
a visa issuance'' to Gutiérrez Menoyo at the U.S. Interests Section in

Miami Herald staff writer Oscar Corral contributed to this report.


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