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    Cuba blocks Chilean, Mexican former officials from entry

    Cuba blocks Chilean, Mexican former officials from entry

    Cuba stoked tensions across Latin America on Tuesday by blocking a
    former Chilean minister and one of Mexico’s ex-presidents from traveling
    to the island to attend an award ceremony hosted by political dissidents.

    Chile said it was recalling its ambassador to Cuba for consultation and
    asking the Cuban government why Mariana Aylwin, a former education
    minister and daughter of an ex-president, was blocked from entering Cuba
    on Monday night.

    Aylwin was traveling to the island to receive a prize on behalf of her
    father. The event, planned for Wednesday, was organized by the Latin
    American Network of Youth for Democracy, a group opposed to the
    Communist government.

    Cuba opposes anything that legitimizes dissidents, which it claims are
    funded by U.S. interests. The government is bracing for a tougher U.S.
    approach to the island under President Donald Trump.

    “Exercising the right (to travel between nations) should not be
    interfered with, especially given that Chile has recognized the feats of
    various figures in Cuban history and politics,” Chile’s Foreign
    Relations Ministry said in a statement.

    Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon tweeted on Tuesday that Cuban
    immigration prevented him from boarding a flight from Mexico City to
    Havana to attend the same meeting.

    Aylwin was prevented from checking in to her flight in Chile’s capital,
    Santiago, apparently at the request of the Cuban authorities, she told
    journalists on Tuesday.

    Calderon, from Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, ruled Mexico
    from 2006 to 2012 and improved relations with Cuba, which had been
    severely tested by his predecessor.

    Mexico’s foreign ministry said on its Twitter account that it
    “regretted” Cuba’s decision to block Calderon’s entry.

    The group, known as JuventudLAC, has also invited Luis Almagro, the head
    of the Organization of American States, which suspended Cuba in 1962 for
    being Communist. It agreed in 2009 to lift the ruling, but Cuba declined
    to rejoin the Washington-based group, which it deems an instrument of
    its former Cold War foe the United States.

    “The behavior of the Cuban government is deeply gross, vulgar and rude,”
    Rosa Maria Paya, the group’s leader and daughter of dissident Oswaldo
    Paya, who died in 2012, told Chilean media.

    “We have all received information that (invited guests) are receiving
    pressure from the Cuban government.”

    Mariana Aylwin is seen as an ideological leader of the most conservative
    segment of Chile’s center-left ruling coalition. Her father was Chile’s
    first democratically elected president after the 1973 to 1990
    dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

    (Reporting by Gram Slattery in Santiago; Additional reporting by Sarah
    Marsh in Havana; Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Chang)

    Source: Cuba blocks Chilean, Mexican former officials from entry |
    Reuters – www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-cuba-idUSKBN1602IB