Cuban athletes ask Brazil asylum
() - August 9, 2007 - 8:26am

BRASILIA (AFP) - Two of four Cuban athletes who defected in Brazil have requested asylum, officials with a Roman Catholic aid organization said Wednesday.

One of the athletes is handball player Rafael Capote, a spokeswoman for Caritas in Sao Paulo told AFP.
The group could not confirm for reasons of "privacy" if the other was trainer Lazaro Lamelas, who also defected from the Pan American team after two defecting boxers were deported to Cuba.

The Cubans "submitted to the government of Brazil an asylum request, which is following the normal channels," she said.
Justice Minister Tarso Genro said of Capote's case on Wednesday: "As soon as he seeks refuge, it will be granted," according to O Globo television.
Capote, 19, hopes to join the Sao Caetano team in Sao Paulo, where another Cuban already plays, he told CBN radio news.
When asked what would happen if he returned to Cuba, he said: "We would be under pressure, my family and I, and we would lose all our privileges," he told CBN.
Capote's reasons for staying in Brazil were simple: "We would have better lives than in Cuba."

Double Olympic and world bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, 25, and world welterweight champion Erislandy Lara, 24, were arrested Friday at the behest of the Cuban authorities, who had accused them of trying to defect.

A police chief later told reporters that the two Cubans had been put on a Cuban flight late Saturday and that they "were happy to return."
Neither athlete had spoken with the media and there was no independent confirmation that they left Brazil of their own free will.

Cuban President Fidel Castro said Sunday in an article in a government-run newspaper that the two boxers had tried to defect and called them "traitors," but vowed no retribution.
The Pan American games were held in Rio de Janeiro July 13-29.

CUBAN PRESIDENT FIDEL CASTRO DOUBLE OLYMPIC ERISLANDY LARA GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX JANEIRO JULY JUSTICE MINISTER TARSO GENRO LAZARO LAMELAS O GLOBO PAN AMERICAN SAO PAULO
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