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Cuban Coach Seeks Asylum in U.S.

September 25, 1985|Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Cuban track coach left his nation's delegation here and said Tuesday he wants political asylum in the United States, athletic and federal officials said.

The coach was here during the weekend for the Cup of Americas Games, featuring teams from the Western Hemisphere. He left his delegation during the competition late Sunday, and later told Puerto Rico athletic officials he wanted to stay.

German Rieckehoff Sampayo, president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, identified the Cuban as Rolando Diez Sire, who coached long jumpers. Rieckehoff declined to give further details.

The Cuban delegation departed San Juan on Tuesday without Diez, after the delegation head met with FBI agents and decided not to seek the coach's return.

"He has deserted," said Jesus Molina Fernandez, president of the Cuban Athletic Federation.

"We don't know his motives," Molina said. "Until now, Diez was apparently a fervent revolutionary and definitely anti-Yankee."

Molina said Diez left the team Sunday night during "a strange disturbance" involving several spectators and security guards who the Cuban official said apparently were helping Diez. He said the FBI called him Monday and that agents subsequently met with him.

James Walker, director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service here, said Diez would have to make a formal application for asylum, and that a copy of his statement would be sent to the State Department in Washington.

"We don't deport people to Cuba, not now," Walker said.

Two Cuban athletes who defected during the 1979 Pan American Games here also received political asylum.

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