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Everyone should want to be a Cuban refugee

Cuban dissident Jose Ubaldo arrived in Chile this week and is already enjoying much more than just his freedom.

Ubaldo was serving a 16-year prison term in Cuba when he was freed in July as part of a historical agreement between the Cuban Catholic Church, the Cuban government and the Government of Spain to gradually free 52 political prisoners. He is the only one of the 20 recently freed dissidents flown off to Spain who has decided to live in Chile.

The Chilean government accepted a request for political asylum for Ubaldo from conservative senator Patricio Walker and promised to grant him political refugee status if he requests it.

When Ubaldo arrived in Santiago from Madrid on Aug. 4, he was greeted at the airport by Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno and an ecstatic senator Walker. The minister was waiting for him with eight Chilean ID cards and temporary residence visas for him and his family.

As part of a special government immigrant assistance program, Ubaldo, his wife, three children, in-laws and a nephew are now enjoying benefits any ordinary Chilean or Latin American immigrant would love to have: a comfortable, furnished four-bedroom home in a middle class neighborhood, a $770 monthly stipend (more than double the minimum salary), and jobs.

Ubaldo was immediately offered a job as a journalist in the Maipu municipality, where he now lives. His father in law was offered a job as a chauffer.

“From here, I will continue my struggle,” pledged Ubaldo on his first day in Chile.