Cuban dancers do asylum waltz

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Cuban dancers do asylum waltz

Postby El Pelon » Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:54 pm

Cuban dancers do asylum waltz
Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

LAS VEGAS - Forty-three members of a Cuban dance troupe performing in Las Vegas asked for asylum in the United States yesterday in one of the biggest mass defections of entertainers from Cuba.
Members of the troupe said they took the step because they feared they would be forced to quit performing if they returned to Havana.

They said Cuban authorities did not want them to perform in the U.S. in the first place.

"They were forced into this," Nicole Durr said of the 43 dancers, singers, musicians and stagehands from her "Havana Night Club" show that has been performing at a Las Vegas casino. "We will continue our work."

The performers arrived by bus at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, where they submitted the paperwork for asylum.

There was no immediate reaction from Fidel Castro's Communist government.

The Cuban government reluctantly gave the company permits to travel to the United States in August after the troupe defied its orders not to apply for U.S. visas.

But they were told they would have no future as performers when they returned to Cuba, said Durr, a German who was expelled from Cuba in August.

"They will secure their artistic freedom by declaring their intention to seek asylum in the United States," Durr told Reuters by telephone from Las Vegas.

"We have been together for six years and toured 16 countries, and 'Havana Night' is their life," said Durr.

Three company members decided they would return to Cuba for family reasons, Durr said.

Most of the performers are in their 20s and began their careers with Durr's company at the age of 16 or 17.

In 1993, 39 Cuban athletes and sports officials defected in Puerto Rico during the Central American Games.
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