Havana, March 1 — The Cuban Foreign Ministry denied on Friday statements by the U.S. government on the alleged travel restrictions imposed by Havana on U.S. diplomatic staff. The United States Interests Section (USINT) in Havana invariably receives travel permits to visit prisoners, whether Americans or Cubans, who meet sanctions anywhere in the national territory, Josefina Vidal, director of the United States Department of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said.
The statement follows another by the U.S. State Department who noted that each country bars the other’s diplomatic envoys from leaving the capital without permission, after Cuba complained this week that it has not been afforded since September consular access to Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban anti-terrorists held in the United States since 1998.
All travel permits for USINT consular visits outside the capital have been authorized without exception,” Vidal said, rejecting the U.S. suggestion that such “restriction” was the reason Gonzalez, who is serving a term of probation in Florida, could not meet Cuban consular officials wherever he is living.
“In recent months, U.S. functionaries, including the head of the U.S. Interests Section, have been granted consular access (to prisoners in the provinces of) Matanzas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Artemisa and Mayabeque,” the Cuban official added.
She also said Gonzalez had also been denied permission to travel away from the location where he is serving his parole.
Rene Gonzalez was arrested in 1998 along with Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Ramón Labañino. The group was monitoring violent organizations based in Florida, who were organizing terrorist actions against Cuba.
Rene Gonzalez, is currently under probation in US territory after having met a 13-year prison term for alleged espionage charges.