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16 Members of Cuban National Ballet Refuse To Leave Europe

October 13, 1993

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ More than half the dancers in a Cuban ballet troupe refused to go home after their Spanish tour, saying they received better work offers in Europe, news reports said today.

″I want to make it completely clear that our decision isn’t based on political motives but rather professional ones,″ the group’s director, Olga Bustamante, told the newspaper ABC.

Sixteen of the 27 members of the Cuban National Ballet’s classical Spanish dance troupe wrote to the Grand Theater of Havana announcing their decision to stay in Spain after their tour ended Tuesday, according to ABC and another national daily, El Pais.

The theater granted the dancers leave without pay, the newspapers said. None requested political asylum, El Pais reported.

Bustamante said she and the 15 others planned to return to Cuba after they completed contracts in Europe.

Thousands of people - including several prominent artists - have fled Cuba since its Communist economy went into steep decline several years ago with the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Choreographer Alberto Alonso, one of the National Ballet’s founders, and his wife, dancer Sonia Calero, asked for asylum in New York three weeks ago, El Pais reported.

Also last month, nine members of the Cuban orchestra ″La Familia″ (The Family) asked for asylum in Spain after a series of performances in Portugal, the Portuguese weekly Expresso reported.

In July, Ruben Rodriguez, a member of the Cuban Modern Dance Company, applied for political asylum in Spain. Rodriguez was a boyfriend of Castro’s niece, Mariela, El Pais reported at the time.

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