Science - November 3, 2005

Cuban IAC course participant disappears

A Cuban course participant at the International Agricultural Centre (IAC) disappeared two weeks ago without trace, about a month before the end of his course. ‘He suddenly just didn’t show up,’ says Rio Pals of the IAC. He is believed to have fled the country.

Each year between four- and five hundred people come from abroad to follow IAC courses in the Netherlands. Most are on a Short Stay visa, and once that has expired they must return to their own country. This is also what happens most of the time. There has only been once previous incidence of a participant using a course to flee his own country, recounts Pals. This happened four years ago.

IAC is not responsible for students returning on time to their country, nor is it responsible for screening course applicants. The Netherlands embassy in the country of origin of the participant decides whether a candidate may apply for a temporary visa. ‘We only look at whether someone is qualified to participate in a course. This has nothing to do with the political situation in a country,’ said Pals. The incident therefore has no direct consequences for the way in which IAC works.

IAC also has not issued a statement on the incident. Pals: If someone has political problems, it is not up to the IAC to express an opinion on the matter. This is a completely different issue than something relating to a course.’ The Cuban embassy in the Netherlands has been informed of the disappearance. /LH

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