(CNN Spanish) — The United States Justice granted political asylum to a Cuban pilot who fled the island four months ago in a Soviet-made crop duster plane and landed at an airport in South Florida, his lawyer Eduardo Soto reported on Friday.
Martínez Machado was at a Pompano Beach immigration center while immigration authorities reviewed his case, according to CNN affiliate WSVN.
In his first statements after his spectacular escape, Rubén Martínez Machado celebrated the decision and said that “it is cruel” what is happening in Cuba. “The regime is abusing people. For me, the decision to repress the people in this way, ordering a civil war, was a before and after. I already realized that this did not make sense, ”he added.
The pilot refers to the unusual demonstrations that broke out in various parts of the island on July 11, 2021. Within the framework of the covid-19 epidemic, which led to the worsening of the economic situation, thousands of people challenged the regime of Miguel Díaz-Canel taking to the streets to denounce the lack of freedoms and the collapse of the electrical service.
Martínez Machado explained that his October odyssey took him about 3 hours of flight, and that although he was afraid, he was determined to do it. He said he plans to move to Texas and look for a job as soon as possible, but the first thing he wants to do is “have a beer.”