Cuban actors defect to the United States
MIAMI, United States, Wednesday May 02, 2012 – Last time they fled their homeland, a young Cuban couple set out from Havana on a rickety raft, risking their lives in dangerous waters in pursuit of a better life in the United States.
But that was in a movie.
This time it was real.
As if to prove that life imitates art, two Cuban actors, who starred in a film about defectors, have themselves defected to the United States.
Javier Nunez Florian and Anailin de la Rua emerged from hiding a week after they had gone missing at Miami airport during a stopover on the way to a film festival in New York.
Speaking on a Spanish-language TV channel in Miami, they said they would seek political asylum in the United States.
Before their appearance on the Miami-based Spanish-language channel America TeVe, they had last been seen at Miami airport en route to New York from Havana.
At the airport, they had told their travelling companion, film producer Sandy Perez Aguila, that they would meet him at the departure gate for the New York flight, but they never showed up.
Mr Perez went on to tell Miami police the two had gone missing, but police advised that he would have to wait for 24 hours before he could file a report. Mr Perez continued the journey without them and said that when he opened their suitcases in New York, he found them empty.
The two 20-year-old actors had starred in the film Una Noche (One Night), which depicts three Cuban teenagers trying to escape the poverty of their homeland to begin a new life in Miami.
The film won three awards at the Tribeca film festival, including the prize for best actor for Javier Nunez, which he shared with another of the film's actors.
Speaking on America TeVe, Mr Nunez said he hoped he would be able to further pursue his acting career in the United States.
The pair said they had started thinking about defecting when they heard about the invitation to New York.
Commenting on the move, de la Rua said: "In part, it's hard to leave your family and friends behind. But at the same time you do it so you can help them, there's no future in Cuba".
A Miami immigration lawyer representing the two actors indicated that he planned to file for political asylum on the actors' behalf "based on possible persecution if they return to Cuba".
Several Cuban artists and athletes have defected from Cuba over the past few years.
In 2005, Cuban ballet dancer Rolando Sarabia crossed the border into the US. In 2008 seven members of Cuba's Olympic football team defected in Florida after a game with the US. Last year, five members of the National Ballet of Cuba on tour in Canada decided to remain there after their performances.