Florida Congressman Calls On Zimbabwe to Free Cuban Doctors

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com)- Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a Cuban exile and one of Fidel Castro's most strident critics in Congress called on the Zimbabwean government Wednesday to abide by the Geneva Convention and release two Cuban doctors who were granted refugee status by the United States last week.

"The Zimbabwean government's detention of Leonel Cordova Rodriguez and Noris Pena Martinez is in direct violation of international law. I call upon the Zimbabwean government to immediately release both of the Cuban physicians," Diaz-Balart said.

"There are reports that Castro has sent an aircraft to return the two doctors to Cuba. I am deeply concerned for the safety and security of the physicians," Diaz-Balart added.

The Zimbabwean government has yet to respond. Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the United States, Simbi Mubako, also had no reaction to Diaz-Balart's letter.

Diplomatic sources in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare said Wednesday Zimbabwe was working closely with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to find asylum for the Cuban doctors in another country other than the United States. The physicians, however, were still being detained by Zimbabwean immigration agents.

US immigration officials, who have agreed to grant the doctors American "refugee status" and who interviewed the doctors in Harare last week, have joined with the UNHCR in criticizing Zimbabwean authorities for violating their own immigration laws and other international conventions related to asylum.