Sister: Cuba holds couple as spies
From Lucia Newman
HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- A Cuban couple who are permanent U.S. residents have been held more than 10 weeks by Cuban authorities, accused of espionage, the woman's sister said. A brother who lives in Cuba also is being held.
The couple's two daughters, ages 7 and 15, are being cared for by relatives in Florida, hoping for their parents' return.
"I just want them to come back," the younger daughter told CNN through tears. "I want to be happy again."
The incident began April 8 when authorities detained Arcel and Maria Cardoso at a Cuban airport before they boarded a flight to their home in Miami, Florida, said Maria Cardoso's sister, Maricel Angulo.
The Cardosos -- who arrived in the United States on a raft nine years ago -- had been visiting their hometown of Camaguey since March 27.
"I found out when the security police brought me the two girls," Angulo said. "They said there was something about a letter and that they were being accused of spying."
Authorities told the family that Maria Cardoso was carrying a letter to Miami. Without divulging its contents, they said it contained incriminating information.
Her brother, Omelio Angulo, was arrested a short time later after being accused of giving the letter to his sister.
The daughters were taken to Florida by relatives two weeks after their parents were arrested.
At first, the daughters didn't know what had happened while they waited in the airport.
"Everything was OK," said the older daughter, Lizandra Fernandez. "And then all of a sudden, they took my mom, saying nothing to me, letting me know nothing. I didn't know what was going on for about, for, like, three hours."
Eventually, Lizandra and her sister were allowed to speak to with their mother. Maria Cardoso told her she "didn't know what was happening, but that everything was going to be OK," Lizandra said.
Lizandra expected to return home with her parents later that day. She hasn't seen her parents since the visit in the airport.
Maricel Angulo, who lives in Cuba, arrived in Havana by train Wednesday to try to see her relatives. She said Cuban authorities won't let her hire an attorney on their behalf.
Since last Thursday, the Cardosos and Omelio Angulo have been held in the Cuban state security police's main interrogation headquarters, Villa Marista, in Havana. It was not clear whether formal charges have been filed.
The United States has no legal right to demand consular access to the prisoners or information from the Cuban government about the case because the Cardosos are not U.S. citizens, U.S. State Department sources told CNN.
Family members did not make the case public until 78 days after the arrest because they did not want to politicize the case, said Enrique Angulo, another brother of Mrs. Cardoso. The Cardoso daughters are staying with him at his Miami home.
The family had hoped the case would be resolved without getting the U.S. government involved, he said.
Cuban Foreign Ministry officials told CNN they know nothing about the case but are looking into it. Cuban state security police routinely don't answer questions from the media or answer phone calls.
Maricel Angulo insisted to CNN that none of her relatives are involved in politics.