BY MACEO DIXON
BOSTON - "I am writing to protest the March 29 U.S. State Department decision to deny visas to Maika Guerrero and Iroel Sánchez from the Center for Studies of Youth in Havana. This is not only an attack on academic freedom but also an attack on democratic rights and freedom of speech. I urge you to reverse your decision and grant the requested visas immediately." This is what Luis Matos of the National Dominican Congress in New York wrote to the U.S. State Department demanding that the two Cuban youths be granted visas to speak on U.S. campuses, as they were scheduled to do this month.
Guerrero, 20, and Sánchez, 31, had received 119 letters of invitation from professors and student groups at 73 universities in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Washington denied them entry on grounds that their trip was "for the purpose of advocacy" for the Cuban government. Their visit was organized by the Faculty-Student Cuban Youth Lectures Committee based at Roxbury Community College here.
"I just learned that you have denied visas to two Cuban researchers," wrote Nancy Winitzky, associate professor at the University of Utah, in another letter. "I vigorously protest this action. As tensions mount, we need more, not less communication between the people of our two countries.... Access to diverse points of view is, I thought, one of the hallmarks of the U.S. political system. It is completely unacceptable to block the free exchange of ideas."
The Lectures Committee is urging that more such letters be
sent to Michael Ranneberger, Coordinator for Cuban Affairs;
Richard Nuccio, Special Advisor for Cuban Affairs to Secretary of
State, and Sean Murphy of the Cuba Desk, all at the U.S.
Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520;
tel.: (202) 647-9273, fax (202) 736-4476. Copies of such messages
should be sent to the Lectures Committee at fax: (617) 776-5832.
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