Cuban envoys spotted in police photo lineup
WASHINGTON -- At least three Cuban diplomats have been identified
photo lineups as being among the dozen men who attacked a group of protesters
outside the Cuban Interests Section last month.
The identifications could lead to the envoys' eventual deportation.
Washington, D.C., Police opened a misdemeanor simple assault case
April 14 incident in which 11 victims, an eyewitness and Secret Service police
say several men opened the Cuban Interests Section gates and attacked
demonstrators standing on the sidewalk. No one was seriously hurt, and no one
``I'm getting beat up, and nobody is doing anything about it,''
said Estrella C.
Noda, a domestic violence counselor who moved to Washington from Key West
last year. ``I think one day you'll turn on the TV, the kid will have been sent home,
and nobody will give a damn. I just want someone in authority to say, `Yes, this is
what happened. These people told the truth.' ''
The U.S. State Department gave police photographs of the two dozen
assigned to the Cuban Interests Section, the island's diplomatic mission. A
detective who works the overnight shift showed photographs to the bulk of the
protesters who said they were punched, hit with flag poles and tossed to the
At least four victims identified Cuban employees, the victims said.
``I identified one guy,'' Noda said. ``I singled out two for sure,''
said one protester
who feared reprisals if his name were published. ``There were others I had a good
Federal sources told The Herald that detectives are also examining
video taken by a U.S. government agency. The video, sources said, did not
capture the fracas but is being used to help determine who's who.
A friend of one of the suspects told The Herald that the Cuban
three diplomats home Sunday because of the incident.
The source said First Secretary Fernando Perez Maza told him he
underlings were booted out of their assignments here because their government
did not wish to battle the United States over the incident.
State Department officials said they had no information on departing
but that the Cuban mission still has 30 days to notify that they had left.
Cuban Interests Section spokesman Luis Fernandez denied that anyone
been reassigned, and said he's heard nothing about the police probe.
``All the chicks are with their hen,'' Fernandez said, using a
Fernandez said protesters provoked the attack by insulting the
and children, a charge they deny. The Cubans say several staffers were trying to
make their way past the protesters, who heckled them and tossed objects
through the Interests Section gates.
Even Perez Maza's friend acknowledged that the Interests Section
charged at the heckling protesters, but stressed that no one was hurt.
The uniform Secret Service officer assigned to keep an eye on
the protest that
night filed a report backing the protesters' account.
``The Cuban first secretary was interviewed and refused to provide
a list of names
of possible suspects,'' agent Matthew Schaeffer wrote.
State Department officials said they are waiting for the D.C.
report. Once completed, the State Department will ask local prosecutors whether
the incident would normally have resulted in arrest, had it not involved people
protected by diplomatic immunity.
If the suspects cannot be criminally charged, the State Department
ask Cuba to waive immunity.
If they refuse -- as they did in 1995 after an identical incident
in New York -- the
diplomat would be kicked out of the country and listed in an INS ``look-out book.''
Two Cubans were expelled after the 1995 brawl.
``The Cubans have yet to explain themselves on this,'' one State
``We have asked on a number of occasions and they have yet to
give us a
satisfactory answer on their version of events.''