BY JACK WILLEY
CHICAGO - Thirty-nine participants returning from the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students held in Cuba were detained on August 6 and held for questioning at O'Hare International Airport here.
The youth were returning to Chicago; Madison, Wisconsin; and Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. At about 5:45 p.m., seven participants, including this reporter, were held and later taken to a conference room. At about 7:30, we were joined by 32 others returning on a different flight.
Nearly four hours after the original seven were detained, customs agents began questioning each person individually in a separate room. Customs agents read from a six-page questionnaire of more 30 questions. These included, "Did any other U.S. residents travel to Cuba with you?.. If so, what are their names and addresses?.. What was the nature of their activities in Cuba?.. Did you see them spend money in Cuba?" It included detailed questions about who organized the trip, how participants got there, where they stayed and whether they spent any money in Cuba.
Every person was denied a phone call or legal representation during the questioning. Everyone's passport was photocopied and bags searched. The last person was not released until 11:40 p.m., six hours after the first detentions.
The youth were welcomed by a crowd of 20 family members
and political activists who cheered as each person exited
customs. St. Paul radio station KFAI interviewed Gaetan
Whiston, one of the people greeting the festival
participants, about the detention and other news media were
informed about the incident.
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