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U.S. Department
of State

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 2, 2003

[ ... ]

QUESTION: The Cubans are complaining that some of the Cuban winners of Latin Grammy Awards were denied visas to come to the U.S. to accept their awards. Any comment?

MR. BOUCHER: The -- this is a complicated situation. We all know that Cuba is on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, and therefore all Cubans have to get appropriate handling for their visas, and it takes a while. And everybody knows -- the Cuban Government knows, most Cubans know, certainly Americans who deal with Cuba know that it can take six to eight weeks to process applications. They just submitted their applications a little while ago. We're processing the applications, even without the regularly -- what's normally required is an invitation from a U.S. sponsor, in this case the Latin Grammies -- so we're trying to process these cases as expeditiously as we can, but there are a lot of checks that need to be done. But I'm not in a position to promise that we can do them in time.

QUESTION: Can you give some idea of the checks that have to be done of singers?

MR. BOUCHER: It's for anybody. Whether it's a question --

QUESTION: But you had Iranian ping-pong players coming in here, and these are just Cuban -- were they ping-pong players? I forget.

QUESTION: Wrestlers.

QUESTION: Wrestlers. I don't know what. Cuba is always a --

MR. BOUCHER: That was a while back.


QUESTION: Cuba seems to have a special -- raise special hackles.

MR. BOUCHER: No, you know, other people on the state sponsors list go through similar checks. It's just some people apply in time so that we can get all this done. Here, we have people who have applied very late in the process, and we're trying to do what we can for them. But I can't promise we can get it all done in time. You can't expect us to do all the necessary, legally required, and prudent checks in a very, very short length of time with an event coming up in a few days.

[ End ]