Cuban authorities have denied a visa to the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, to travel to the communist-ruled island to receive a prize from a dissident organisation, he said Wednesday.
Almagro had been invited to receive a prize named for dissident Oswaldo Paya, who died in 2012 in a car crash under mysterious circumstances.
“My request for a visa for the official OAS passport was denied by the Cuban consulate in Washington,” Almagro said in a letter to Paya’s daughter Rosa Maria, who organised the ceremony to confer the prize.
Almagro said he was informed by Cuban consular authorities that he would be denied a visa even if he travelled on his Uruguayan diplomatic passport.
The Cubans conveyed to a representative of Almagro that they regarded the motive of his visit an “unacceptable provocation,” and expressed “astonishment” at the OAS’s involvement in what they deemed anti-Cuban activities, he said.
Almagro said he asked that the decision be reversed, arguing that his trip to Cuba was no different from events he had participated in other countries of the region.
Two other political figures who wanted to travel to Cuba for the award ceremony — Mexico’s former president Felipe Calderon and former Chilean education minister Mariana Aylwin — said they also had been denied visas.
Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 at the height of the Cold War, and has declined to return despite having been readmitted in 2009.
Since Cuba’s suspension, the only OAS secretary general to visit the island was Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean who attended a Latin American summit in Havana in 2014.