The five-nation Andean Pact today blamed Cuba for precipitating the refugee crisis in Havana, reaffirmed the pact's "unwavering position in defense of the institution of asylum" and urged a full-scale international effort to evacuate the thousands of Cubans living in squalid conditions since last weekend in the Peruvian Embassy there.
Despite the joint statement of condemnation, only Peru announced a commitment to resettle any of the refugees -- the central issue discussed during the nine-hour emergency meeting that ended shortly after midnight today. The other members, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, left vague their position on accepting the refugees.
As many as 10,000 Cubans may be eligible to leave as a result of the situation that developed last weekend when the Cuban government withdrew security guards from around the Peruvian Embassy. The government told all of those who made their way inside that they could leave Cuba as soon as Peru found a place for them to go.
To set an example and bring pressure on other countries, principally in the Western Hemisphere and Europe, Peruvian Foreign Minister Arturo Garcia y Garcia announced shortly after the meeting broke up that Peru would resettle 1,000 of the refugees. It was the first country to commit itself publicly to receive a specific number of the Cubans.
Later in the day, Ecuador's foreign minister, Alfredo Parejo Diez Canseco, said his country would soon announce a specific number of refugees it is willing to take. He said that the Peruvian government had received offers from international agencies and several governments for logistical and financial support to resolve the situation in Havana. He declined to name those making the offers.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry said last night that the United States, France, West Germany, Spain, Costa Rica and Argentina have all indicated that they are, in principle, willing to participate in the resettlement effort. t
[The Spanish government announced that it would receive 500 of the refugees, Reuter reported, and Costa Rica said it would take 300. In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the United States would accept its "fair share."]
Peru is also working with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which sent a special representative here today, and the Intergovernmental Committee on European Migration to provide assistance for the evacuation and resettlement effort.
Diplomatic sources here said that neither money, airplanes nor logistical support were the central problems faced by Peru in its attempt to relieve the overcrowded and volatile situation at its embassy in Havana. These diplomats said that the most difficult problems are to find a central staging area outside of Cuba to house the refugees temporarily and then to find enough countries willing to offer them permanent resettlement.
Peru, which called the emergency session of the Andean Pact foreign ministers' council, had hoped that the other members would agree to accept at least some of the refugees as a first step toward organizing an international resettlement program.
After the meeting ended, Peruvian diplomats insisted that the four other members had agreed to do so. But the wording of the declaration left the question open. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose A. Zambrano Velasco said in an interview that each pact country "is left free to accept or not accept some of the refugees."
As he was leaving Lima today, Zambrano refused to say whether his country -- which has a small number of Cubans seeking political asylum housed in its own embassy in Havana -- would accept any of the refugees in the Peruvian chancery.
In the declaration, the five pact countries said that the "problem was created by the Cuban government" because of its decision to withdraw security from the embassy and that, therefore, "the responsibility . . . of resolving it belongs principally [to the Cuban government] in accord with the norms and principles of international law."
The gravity of the situation was indicated today when Zambrano said that Venezuela had not ruled out the possibility of breaking relations with Cuba over the matter. The Peruvian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying that Garcia had been misquoted as saying that Peru had ruled out the possibility of taking a similar step.
The Andean Pact was formed 11 years ago to create a common market and achieve a high level of economic integration.
Over the last year, its members have increasingly moved into political areas -- playing a particularly vigorous role in dissuading the Bolivian military from entrenching itself in power after a coup. The pact's member governments are all either constitutional or have announced timetables for return to democratic rule.