Six Cuban exiles from Miami flew to Havana Friday to pick up 46 political prisoners and their families and to give the Cuban government a document with suggestions on how to structure talks about the remaining political prisoners and the reunification of Cuban families.
The prisoners, their 33 family members, and the six-man group are to land at Miami International Airport today shortly after 4 p.m. aboard an Eastern Air Lines Boeing 727.
Miami banker Bernardo Benes, who organized the flight, wrote the two-page document which, he said, can serve as a "pre-agenda" for talks with the Cuban government. He said he hopes it will clarify the word "dialogue," a word used to describe talks with the Cuban government and which has been interpreted in various ways.
One of the men who went to Cuba with Benes was Rafael Huguet, president of Mini -- Hospital Inc. Huguet said the document also deals with procedural matters, such as how future political prisoners will be treated by the Cuban government and community once they are released, and safety precautions while the prisoners await permission to leave the island.
Benes would not elaborate on the content of the document, except to say that it only represents his opinion and those opinions of the five men who went to Cuba with him.
Those men are Huguet; Bobby Maduro, assistant to baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn; Orlando Padron, owner of Padron Cigars; Father Guillermo Arias, of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and Reinol Gonzalez, a former political prisoner who spent 16 years in Cuban prisons.
Also on the flight were Miami News Executive Editor Howard Klienberg and reporters from United Press International, the Associated Press, the New York Times Service, radio stations WFUN and WINZ, and television channels 4, 7 and 10.
The Spanish-language newspaper Diaro de Las Americas and radio stations WQBA and WRHC declined invitations to go on the flight.
Benes, who has in past days denied that he was involved with the flight, said he organized it because "if I didnít do it, I donít think it would have been done. The prisoners would have had to leave individually through countries like Jamaica, Mexico or Spain."
"I feel very satisfied. After 20 years of frustrations, tricks, and suffering, it is hard to believe that this would be possible. But Iím now convinced that thousands of prisonerís will be getting out of Cuban prisons," said Benes
"I havenít been able to answer the unjust and pitiless attacks against me since I began thinking about getting the political prisoners out of Cuba and the reunification of the Cuban families because I decided that I will not debate these two topics with any Cuban as long as I know that I can get one more political prisoner out, or join a Cuban husband with his wife, or a father with his children." said Benes
Benes and the other members of the group emphasized that their trip was for humanitarian purposes rather than for political reasons.
"We consider it our duty to do something for the men who are behind bars in Cuba, but without getting personally involved in political dialogues. There are those in the exile community who donít understand the mission that we have been called upon to undertake. But we have only one our goal in mind: to help our countrymen in Cuba and all over the world to live happily," said Padron, who left Cuba in 1961.
Gonzalez, who was released from prison in 1977, said, "Since I left prison I have been working for the release of the political prisoners and the reunification of the families. It is my duty as an ex-prisoner, a Cuban, a Christian and a father."
Maduro said that he agreed to go on the trip because he is a strong supporter of human rights. He said his job with the Kuhn had nothing to do with the trip.
"I was asked to go precisely because I am not affiliated with any political situations. I have no desire to personally enter into talks with the Cuban government or U.S. officials. I am just a citizen trying to help the prisoners as much as possible."
Father Arias said he was going with Benes "to see what I can do as a priest for the political prisoners."