WASHINGTON — A Cuban American who won a Bronze Star in Iraq but was not allowed to return to Cuba to care for a sick son said Monday that his children were being allowed to visit the United States.
Under an agreement with the State Department and the Cuban government, Sgt. Carlos Lazo's two sons, 17-year-old Carlos Rafael Lazo and 19-year-old Carlos Manuel Lazo, will visit for three months. Carlos Lazo, a member of the Washington state National Guard, plans to fly to Miami on Friday to meet them.
The family's plight had drawn national media attention and prompted lawmakers from both parties to complain about the strict limits the Bush administration imposes on travel to Cuba.
The rules, meant to punish the communist government of Fidel Castro, limit family visits to once every three years.
Lazo last saw his sons in April 2003. He was barred from visiting his younger son when the teen was hospitalized for 10 days last year with a high fever.
Lazo, 40, of Seattle, came to the U.S. by raft in 1992. Now an American citizen, he works as a counselor for the state's social and health services department. He joined the National Guard in 2000 and trained as a medic. He was sent to Iraq in April 2004 and earned the Bronze Star for braving sniper fire and mortar rounds while providing medical aid during combat in Fallouja.
"First of all, I'm very grateful for the outcome of this," Lazo said. "On the other hand, I feel sad because there are thousands of Cuban Americans, especially in Miami, who, due to these restrictions, cannot see their families."