For immediate release! The partial or complete reproduction of this news is authorized. Contact: Sergio F. González, CubDest/Brazil E-mail: Tel.: (55-11) 93982330 Fax: (55-11) 61796214

Arrival in Brazil of Sandra, the girl being held in Cuba against the will of her parents

As a result of increasing Brazilian and international pressure, Communist authorities had to authorize the trip.

SÃO PAULO, June 23, 2001 (CubDest) - The eleven year old Cuban girl, Sandra Becerra Jova, who had been held in Cuba for more than 4 years, against the will of her parents, the Cuban engineers Vicente Becerra and Zaida Jova, postgraduate students in the University of Campinas, 100 km. from São Paulo, arrived today at the international airport of Guarulhos, in São Paulo, from Havana.

Sandrita's case became known in Brazil at the end of April when principal means of communication began to divulge the details of the unsuccessful and humiliating procedures which for more than 4 years her parents had to endure at the hands of the regime of Havana. The injustice and arbitration that was being committed deeply moved the public opinion in this country.

In the beginning of June, the case gained international notoriety when Cuban jurist Dr. Claudio Benedí presented it before the OEA General Assembly and the International Human Rights Commission. The Cuban embassy in Brazil classified the denouncement before the OEA as an "unnecessary scandal", but the contradictions that the diplomats felt into in trying to justify the literal kidnapping of the girl only served to increase the pressure from the Brazilian and international press.

Sandra's mother, Zaida Jova, an engineer, regretted that the same regime of Havana that organized massive mobilization of people to reclaim the return of the boy Elián González to Cuba, claiming that it was in the name of "family reunification", was precisely the one that "with such cruelty" maintained them separated from their daughter. A high ranking official from the Brazilian Chancery, Itamaraty, declared that the Brazilian authorities wanted a "favorable and expedient" outcome.

Sensing that the notoriety of the case was increasing with each day, Havana opted to free Sandra, who arrived today in Brazil accompanied by her maternal grandmother. The national and international press covered the arrival of Sandra and the emotional reunification with her parents and with Daniel, her 3-year-old brother who was born in Brazil.

Vicente Becerra and Zaida Jova, in a brief statement, expressed their gratitude to the Brazilian people, and specifically mentioned the University of Campinas, Brazilian means of communication, the Cuban exile press and that of the Américas, Dr. Claudio Benedí and the Brazilian Chancery.

It has been reported that other cases exist similar to Sandra's, and some even more critical, of Cubans outside of Cuba whose children are being held in Cuba, but up until now they have been silent out of fear of reprisals. The case of the children Yanelis, Yamila and Isaac Cohen Brito has been confirmed, that the Cuban authorities for the past 8 years do not allow the children to leave the country to reunite with their father, even though they have obtained United States entry visas (for more information on this case, including the Cohen children's phone numbers in Cuba, please call 55-11-93982330).