St Lucia probes authenticity of tourist visas held by Cubans

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony (File Photo)

Government has launched an investigation into reports that 38 Cubans caught trying to sail to the United States had St. Lucia tourist visas.

The Dr. Kenny Anthony administration said it needed to find out the origin of the visas since Cubans do not require them to enter the Caribbean island.

A May 15 Associated Press report, which was also picked up by other media outlets, stated that the group of Cubans was among 100 who had been intercepted by the Coast Guard near the US Virgin Islands in late April, and the Cuba government had initially not allowed them back because they had legally left the country and obtained tourist visas to St. Lucia.

However, in a brief statement issued yesterday, the St. Lucia government said: “An investigation has been launched into the matter to determine how the alleged visas appeared in the passports of the Cuban nationals, since Cuban nationals do not require tourist visas to visit St. Lucia. The Government of St. Lucia is in touch with the Cuban and American authorities on this matter.”

The country’s opposition United Workers’ Party (UWP) had also expressed concern about the visa report.

It demanded an explanation from the government.

“Who were these visas issued to and for what reasons? For what period in time were the visas issued? Who issued these visas on behalf of the Government of St Lucia?” the UWP questioned in a statement.

“The United Workers Party wants further explanation to the reasons why St Lucia visas, for the second time in recent months, seem to result in embarrassment for this country and . . . demands a full and detailed explanation and investigation from the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration.”

The migrants in question were allowed back into Cuba on Sunday.