Daniel Llorente Miranda marked one year this month away from his native Cuba after Communist Party agents forced him on a one-way flight to Guyana. Trapped in a foreign land with no travel documentation, few income options, and an increasingly cold shoulder from the United Nations, Llorente told Breitbart News this week he is running out of options for survival.
Llorente rose to international acclaim in 2017 when, in an act of peaceful protest, he ran in front of Havana’s massive May Day parade waving an American flag. The May Day parade, observing the Marxist “International Workers’ Day” holiday, is one of the regime’s most prominent events. Ignoring the live cameras rolling, about half a dozen Cuban regime agents surrounded Llorente, stole his flag, and beat him in front of a crowd of thousands.
For that intransigence, Llorente spent slightly over a year – just enough to keep him contained during May Day – in a notorious mental institution Cubans know as “Mazorra,” used for decades to torture political dissidents. Authorities told his then-teen son, Eliezer, that “since he believes in God and is always talking about that … they say that is a disorder,” the younger Llorente said at the time.
Upon being released in May 2018, Llorente resumed his pro-American, anti-communist activities immediately, resulting in near-incessant persecution throughout the year. Then, suddenly, Llorente disappeared on May 16, 2019. With the help of Cuban-American news outlet Radio Martí and Guyanese journalist Leonard Gildarie, Breitbart News found Llorente in Georgetown, Guyana, that week.
Llorente estimates that he has been arrested for peaceful dissident activity “15 to 20 times.”
Llorente did not emigrate from Cuba. He did not choose to leave the country. Llorente told Breitbart News at the time that Cuban agents forced him on a flight to Georgetown and threatened to imprison him indefinitely, or worse, if he ever stepped foot in Cuba again.
Since his ordeal became public, the human rights organization Cuban Prisoners Defenders has published evidence that the Castro regime has forced hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents into the same fate as Llorente: forced expatriation, a one-way flight to anywhere but Cuba. Most have ended up in Guyana. The Guyanese government has refused to offer any explanation for why.
Breitbart News caught up with Llorente on Wednesday – Cuban Independence Day, which marked 118 years since the end of Spanish rule. Llorente said that he spends much of his time seeking work in Georgetown, riding his bicycle equipped with American, Cuban, and Guyanese flags aside a photo of President Donald Trump, around town. Guyana has offered neither an explanation for how he got there nor any aid in helping him establish himself.
As the anniversary of his abduction by Cuban police neared, so did the end to the few sources of aid he has received since arriving, including his asylum seeker certificate from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office and the small stipend they have provided to keep him afloat.
“On April 30 of last year, the UNHCR interviewed me for my asylum application and, until now, they have not responded and I have had no contact with the UNHCR as they do not respond to my messages,” Llorente told Breitbart News on Wednesday. “It all indicates that they have cast me aside, like they don’t want to know anything more about my situation.”
In March, Llorente wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutérres asking for help in clarifying his status in Guyana and finding a place to settle safely and permanently. At the time, Llorente also expressed fear of the high levels of crime in Guyana, particularly in relation to reports of increased attacks, including a homicide, against Cubans in the country. The letter went unanswered.
“Honestly, I feel very bad in this country, as I can’t have a social life, the money that I earn working only covers food and the rent was being paid by the UNHCR, and this month they have not responded to my requests for help, I am already behind on payments and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Llorente added.
He explained that his failure to pay the rent in the small room that he has stayed in since December was not the product of not wanting to work.
“I have worked washing cars, in construction, picking up raw materials, helping at store warehouses, painting homes, landscaping, washing dishes at a restaurant, and now I am working in the same hotel where I live, cleaning and doing maintenance,” he explained.
Llorente is a taxi driver by trade, but his inability to communicate in English has hindered his chances of finding jobs closer to his skill set in Anglophone Guyana, instead forcing him to seek out the odd manual labor gig.
“Since I don’t dominate the language well, if I solicit them [potential bosses], they don’t pay attention and justify it by saying they can’t understand me, but they also don’t show any interest because they don’t seem to want to help foreigners,” Llorente observed. “They give foreigners the hardest work for the least pay.”
Llorente noted that he may soon be homeless, cast outside during a time in which Guyanese authorities are encouraging social distancing and staying at home to diminish the damage caused by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. At press time, Guyana has documented 125 cases of Chinese coronavirus and ten deaths.
On May 28, he will face another problem: his only legal documentation for being in the country, his UNHCR asylum-seeker certificate, will expire. He said he does not know what happens to his legal status once that expires, as he has not been able to contact any official in either the Cuban or Guyanese governments. He has attempted to reach out to the U.S. embassy in Georgetown, but was told that they cannot process asylum requests unless he is in America.
Llorente said, however, that he is most displeased with the United Nations, as they have a duty to follow up with his asylum seeker status and have stopped answering his calls.
“The UNHCR is obligated to look out for me, but they don’t want to deal with me to avoid helping … and, to think, the U.N. for years has helped the Cuban dictatorship, which is the cause of the problems of the Cuban people,” Llorente told Breitbart News.