New York Times
April 17, 1961. p. 1.
Asylum Granted To Three Airmen
But Names and Whereabouts of Fliers Who Landed in Florida Are Kept
By Tad Szulc
MIAMI, April 16--The three fliers
who landed in Florida yesterday after having bombed air bases in Cuba were
granted political asylum in the United States today.
Special to The New York Times
In a departure from the
usual practice in asylum cases here, the identity of the three men and
their whereabouts remained secret.
Edward Ahrens, district
director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service here, announced
tonight that the fliers had received asylum. He said the men, who described
themselves as defectors from the air force of Premier Fidel Castro, were
free on parole.
One Plane Carried 2 Men
Mr. Ahrens said that to protect
the fliers' families, their names could not be revealed and that their
place of hiding had to be kept secret. he refused to comment on a report
that the fliers were no longer in the United States.
It was reported in some
Cuban quarters here tonight that one, or all three, of the fliers might
be presented at the United Nations tomorrow in connection with the resumption
of the debate in the General Assembly Political Committee on Cuban charges
of United States aggression.
Such an appearance would
be designed to disprove Premier Castro's allegations that the men were
not defectors but fliers in the service of the rebel movement based in
No confirmation of the report
that the men might go to the United Nations was available from United States
The three men flew to Florida
aboard B-26 bombers. One of the planes landed at Miami with only a pilot
on board. The other landed at the Naval Air Station in Key West with a
pilot and crewman on board.
The flier who arrived in
Miami had been taken into custody by immigration officials immediately
after landing. Later a statement attributed to him was issued, describing
a defection by him and two fellow pilots.
The mystery surrounding
the three fliers was compounded today by a series of apparent contradictions.
These occurred in the statement released in the name of the pilot in Miami
and subsequent information made available by spokesmen here and in New
York for the Democratic Revolutionary Council, the top command of the anti-Castro
The pilot asserted he was
one of four B-26 pilots in Cuba who had planned for three months to escape
from Premier Castro's service. He was quoted as having said that suspected
betrayal by one of the four pushed them last Thursday into deciding to
act at once.
The council's spokesmen
mentioned six aircraft, one of which was reported to have been shot down
in flames. Premier Castro also said yesterday that one of the attacking
aircraft had been brought down.
Planes' Fate Unclear
With only two of the B-26's
accounted for until now--one is here and the other is in Key West--the
fate of the others mentioned was not clear.
A council spokesman said
tonight some of the aircraft had landed in a "foreign country." The pilot
in Miami declared in his statement that a shortage of fuel made it impossible
for him to reach "our agreed destination."
The flier's narrative suggested
that three aircraft had been involved in the bombing and strafing of the
bases, but only two have been accounted for, the two that landed in Florida.
The confusion over what
and how many aircraft participated in yesterday's attack deepened still
further tonight with an announcement by the Revolutionary Council that
another pilot, identified as Lieut. Orestes Acosta, has landed in a "foreign
country" after a Cuban raid yesterday.
The announcement said that
this pilot, flying a T-33 jet trainer converted into a combat aircraft,
bombed Santiago on Cuba's eastern coast.
Cuba had three T-33 trainers,
purchased before Premier Castro's victory. one was lost in 1959 and the
Cuban Air Force was believed to have the two others still in operation.
Premier Castro's charges
that the attacking aircraft had taken off from Guatemala became the principal
topic of conversation among the regime's opponents in Miami. Meanwhile,
United States authorities refused to discuss any details concerning the
aircraft that had arrived in Florida.
The planes are being held
by customs officials pending a decision in Washington over their ultimate
fate. Navy authorities in Key West refused to discuss the appearance of
the aircraft there.
It was reported, however,
that the two fliers in Key West had left for Miami this morning by bus.
It was reported here yesterday
that the two B-26's had not been spotted on radar as they approached Miami
and Key West.
The reports said control
towers at the two airports became aware of the bombers' approach only when
the pilots called by radio for permission to land.
Dr. Manuel Antonio de Varona,
appointed yesterday as Defense Minister of the anti-Castro exile group,
made a hurried trip here from New York early today. He went back to New
York this morning after what was described as a night of urgent conferences