Is there an organization of repatriated people in Cuba whose name has the word balsero in it and, if so, what is known about the group?
The full name of the group in question is the Asociación Nacional de Balseros Paz, Democracia y Libertad de Centro Norte de Cuba, National Association of Rafters Peace, Democracy and Freedom of North Central Cuba. It was founded around mid-1998 in the north-central coastal city of Caibarién in the province of Villa Clara and, according to a report by an independent journalist in early February 2000, is based at "Avenida 39 No. 1603 entre 16 y 18" in Caibarién, which evidently is the home of the groupís president, Margarito Broche Espinosa. (Cuba Free Press, 3 February 2000)
On occasion some of the words in the name of the organization are apparently dropped in reports by independent journalists. For example, in one report the group was referred to as the Sociedad de Ex-Balseros, Society of Former Rafters (Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, 24 February 2000), while in another it was referred to as the Asociación Paz, Democracia y Libertad, Association Peace Democracy and Freedom (CubaNet, 6 October 1999). Due to specific references in the articles, it appears that both reports were referring to the same balsero groupófor example, both reports identified the groupís president as Margarito Broche Espinosa.
According to reports by independent journalists the group was founded by people who had attempted to flee Cuba by raft and had been picked up by U.S. authorities and returned to the island under the U.S.-Cuba immigration accords. Members of the group say it was formed to defend the right of repatriated balseros not to be marginalized by the Cuban government, to denounce violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to carry out civic actions such as fasts, seminars and the throwing of flowers into the sea in homage to those who disappeared while trying to escape Cuba by raft. (CubaNet, 6 October 1999).
In early February 2000 the group issued a statement to all repatriated balseros in Cuba in which it invited them to denounce to the group in writing any violations of human rights against them by the government, such as "harassment, physical or psychological attacks, home searches, confiscation of property, loss of job," and promised to present copies of all the denunciations to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the U.S. Congress as examples of violations of the U.S.-Cuba immigration accords. (Cuba Free Press, "Balseros Repatriados Acosados," 3 February 2000)
In late February 2000 the group conducted a fast and ceremony in honor of the four people who died when Cuban air force jets on February 24, 1996 shot down two airplanes of Hermanos al Rescate, Brothers to the Rescue, and in honor of the 41 people who died when a Cuban vessel deliberately rammed and sunk on July 13, 1994 the state-owned tugboat 13 de Marzo which had been hijacked from Havana harbor. The commemorative event was held at the home of the groupís president Margarito Broche Espinosa at the street address in Caibarién cited above and was attended by a number of dissidents and independent journalists. (Cuba Free Press, "Jornada Nacional de Balseros 24 de Febrero," 3 February 2000; CubaNet, 10 February 2000; Cuba Free Press, 25 February 2000)
In January 2000 two other dissident organizations, the Partido Pro-Derechos Humanos de Cuba (PPDHC), Pro-Human Rights Party of Cuba, and the Movimiento Acción Democrática, Democratic Action Movement, distributed shoes donated by the Cuban exile community in the United States to children of members of the Asociación Nacional de Balseros Paz, Democracia y Libertad de Centro Norte de Cuba. (Cuba Free Press, 11 January 2000).
Also in January 2000, the group issued a declaration in favor of lifting the restrictions on the sale to Cuba of medicine and food from the United States. Also supporting that declaration were the Villa Clara province branches of the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos "José Martí," National Commission of Human Rights José Martí, and the Partido Solidaridad Democrático (PSD), Democratic Solidarity Party. (Cuba Free Press, 12 January 2000)
In early October 1999 the association held internal elections in which Margarito Broche Espinosa was reelected president and Alberto Reyes Manso vice-president. María de la Caridad Noa González was elected secretary. Elected as members of the groupís executive committee were Osmani Broche Noa, Mayra Machado Castro, Tomás López Milian, Alexis Moya Pérez, Arazay Córdoba Rojas, Yaiset Rubio Espinosa and Ramón Martín Ruíz. (CubaNet, 6 October 1999).
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes (CPI). De Céspedes, Oswaldo. "Homenajean en Cuba a pilotos asesinados" (Havana: 24 February 2000), published 25 February 2000 by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y00/feb00/25a1.htm.
Cuba Free Press. Hernández, Luis Ramón. "Balseros Repatriados Acosados" (Villa Clara), published 3 February 2000 by Cuba Free Press: www.cubafreepress.org/art1/cubap000203bb.html.
Cuba Free Press. Hernández, Luis Ramón. "Jornada Nacional de Balseros 24 de Febrero" (Villa Clara), published 3 February 2000 by Cuba Free Press: www.cubafreepress.org/art1/cubap000203cc.html.
Cuba Free Press. Miranda, Mery. "Actos en recordación de los pilotos de Hermanos al Rescate" (Havana: 25 February 2000), published by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y00/feb00/28a5.htm.
Cuba Free Press. Recio Martínez, Juan Carlos. "Grupos disidentes entregan zapatos a niños necesitados" (Villa Clara: 11 January 2000), published by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y00/jan00/12a9.htm.
Cuba Free Press. Recio Martínez, Juan Carlos. "Se pronuncian disidentes a favor de comercio con Estados Unidos" (Villa Clara: 12 January 2000), published by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y00/jan00/13a7.htm.
CubaNet. Trujillo Pis, Héctor. "Reestructurada asociación de balseros villareños" (Caibarién, Villa Clara: 5 October 1999), published 6 October 1999 by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y99/oct99/06a2.htm.
CubaNet. Trujillo Pis, Héctor. "Acto de desobediencia civil por los muertos de Hermanos al Rescate" (Caibarién, Villa Clara: 9 February 2000), published 10 February 2000 by CubaNet: www.cubanet.org/CNews/y00/feb00/10a12.htm.