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Posted February 09, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By Anthony Boadle | Reuters

A U.S. resident who had spent 22 years in a Cuban prison for opposing communism and returned to the island to work for democracy now faces a U.S. jail threat for violating travel restrictions.

Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, a Cuban exile who returned in 2003, has been warned by the U.S. Treasury Department that he could be fined $250,000 or sent to prison for 10 years for staying in Cuba in violation of sanctions intended to isolate the government of Fidel Castro.

“They don’t understand: I am not a tourist in Cuba, I am an activist working to establish a legal space for an independent opposition,” Gutierrez Menoyo said on Tuesday in an interview.

“It is illogical. I’m here seeking freedom and the United States comes and tells me I face a 10-year prison sentence,” he complained.

Gutierrez Menoyo fought alongside Castro in the guerrilla movement that toppled U.S-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. But he fell out with Castro over Cuba’s turn to the left and spent 22 years in jail after a failed insurrection.

After his release in 1986, the former guerrilla commander lived in exile in Miami, where he has a wife and three U.S-born children, and retains permanent U.S. residency.

But in August 2003, Gutierrez Menoyo announced on a visit to Cuba that he was staying in Havana to try to open an office for his political group, called Cambio Cubano, and build a moderate opposition to what he calls Castro’s “socialist dictatorship.”

The Cuban government has not legalized his status, but it tolerates his presence and invited him to a conference on Cuban migration. It renewed his Cuban passport and allowed him to travel twice to the United States.

U.S. authorities did not take lightly to Gutierrez Menoyo’s return to Cuba, and froze the bank account of his Miami-based political group.

In November 2004, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions on Cuba, warned him in a letter that he could face prosecution for violating restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Gutierrez Menoyo, who made the letter public this week in protest, believes the Bush administration’s policy of tightened sanctions is not helping the cause of democracy in Cuba.

Anti-Castro exiles in Miami reject Gutierrez Menoyo’s willingness to talk with the Cuban government—he was received by Castro in 1995—rather than confront its one-party system, and suspect he may be a pawn.

Cuban dissidents in Havana shun the maverick former exile for being too moderate and distrust his motives.

Western diplomats see the Spanish-born Gutierrez Menoyo as a genuine and brave opponent of Castro, but one who overestimates his importance.

With little to show for his efforts, Gutierrez Menoyo’s only success so far may be not getting thrown out of Cuba, one European diplomat said.

“They do not realize that I am sandwiched between the extreme right in Miami and the extreme left in Cuba,” Gutierrez Menoyo said. “That is the price one pays for being independent.”

  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 09, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Who is putting the pressure on US Treasury/OFAC to threaten Mr. Gutierrez Menoyo?

    I smell a Diaz-Balart.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 09, 2005 by waldo with 264 total posts

    More B.S from Caesar and his pals in Miami.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 09, 2005 by Dana Garrett with 252 total posts

    This is a fascinating outcome.  Mr. Gutierrez Menoyo spent 22 years in a Cuban prison for trying to topple the government.  But the USA “democracy” threatens to give him almost half that much jail time for merely traveling to and staying in another nation. 

    If travel in the USA is half as bad as insurrection in Cuba, then I can only recommend that Mr. Gutierrez Menoyo never try to topple the USA government.  God only know what horrors would await him given the way the USA calculates punishment for crime. 

  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 09, 2005 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Funny a drunk driver who kills someone while drving intoxicated spends an average of 5 years in jail,the sentence is more of course but for being good he gets released early,and now here is a man who is trying to do something for the good of both the US and Cuba and the US wants to throw away the key on him?

    You know this is one of those times I really want to blow the hell up and start cursing away,but I shall remain “civil”,something the US should start doing!

    Next thing you know the US will be telling people when they can scratch thier own asses!

    Oops,that slipped!

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 09, 2005 by waldo with 264 total posts

    Great points Dana and Young Cuban. And George Caesar do intent to use his ideas of freedom and democracy to try to controll the world, just like Rome did 1,900 years ago, so that he and his arrogant Oreo Adviser could tell all how to scrath their you know what.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on February 10, 2005 by jesusp with 246 total posts

    Once again the absurdity of U.S. policy is put on display by Treasury/OFAC and I have to agree with the publisher that the Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lethien crowd have their hands all over this affair. Sadly, there is not one person in that Miami crowd that can shine Eloy’ shoes.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on February 15, 2005 by sansegoto with 2 total posts

    Eloy Guiterrez-Menoyo is an apostle for a peaceful trasformation of Cuba into a democracy. If he survives Castro, he can exert an important transitional influence on Cuba’ evolution toward freedom and democracy. He is a Nelson Mandela in the making.

    The US government should quietly encourage, not harass this patriot. He is a friend, a hero, and a first class citizen of the civilized world. Lets protect him!

  8. Follow up post #8 added on November 15, 2006 by Roberto Esteban

    Eloy gutierrez-menoyo creo que es un simbolo para todo cubano que en realidad quiera una democrasia para cuba me siento realmente vivo al saber que quedan cubanos con verguenza tiene to mi apoyo moral y siento una gran verguenza por toda esta politiqueria barata de miami

  9. Follow up post #9 added on November 21, 2007 by Leo

    There are only two reasons why Menoyo can stay in Cuba: or he is secretly a very close friend of Castro or the latter is planning something. NOBODY can live in Cuba for such a long time with no legalized status (unless the Big Brother says so)

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