Families of jailed Cuban protesters blocked from meeting US officials
By James Cogan
14 November 2017
Tens of thousands of families whose relatives were detained by a US law enforcement agency in Cuba were denied access to US government officials and diplomats, forcing the most senior foreign affairs official in the United States to publicly disavow the actions of the occupation force of the United States.
The families’ lawyer, the late Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a member of the Cuban-American National Foundation, and four other Cuban citizens held for more than two decades in Guantánamo Bay sought to meet with US officials in Washington, DC, to discuss their cases. However, they claim that they were unable to meet because of the refusal of the US embassy to grant them entry.
The US Embassy did not respond to inquiries from the Cuban-American National Foundation in the aftermath of the meeting and Zapata Tamayo’s statement on Thursday.
The meeting took place over the course of the day on Thursday, with Cuban officials, US federal agencies, lawyers and journalists in attendance, including Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the president of the John F Kennedy School of Government, Michael Posner.
The US Embassy told Cubans in attendance that they could attend after giving assurances that their safety would be guaranteed in the face of possible violence. However, by the time the meeting ended at 6:30pm, the Cuban government was reported to have given the families a receipt for a US government check that was in the amount of $10,000.
Speaking to reporters on Friday in Washington, DC, where the families have been living for two decades, Zapata Tamayo and Diaz Balart called on the US government to take a firm stance against the forcible removals from the island in which their relatives died.
“It’s an affront, because we all have the same family members inside the base,” Diaz Balart added. “How can they make this decision? How can they decide that our family members were ‘security threat(s)?’”
He also reiterated that if the families were given access to federal officials, “to find out what’s going on, and to express