Two more planeloads with 252 of the thousands of Cubans who took asylum in the Peruvian Embassy in Havana to escape the country arrived here today, and relief officials worked frantically on arrangements to send them to the countries where they will settle.
Most of them said they wanted to go to the United States, but the first relief plan out of this staging-base country was a chartered Costa Rican craft taking 100 exiles to Peru.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said two officials were heading for Costa Rica to interview the Cubans before granting them visas. He said all the names would be sent to Washington for a security check, then visas could be issued here.
The process would take "a couple of weeks" he said. Usually, it takes several months to obtain an immigrant visa.
The United States has said it will take 3,500 of the Cubans, Peru will take 1,000 and Costa Rica, Spain, Belgium and Ecuador have promised to receive smaller numbers.
The Cubans who arrived today were taken to an empty building that used to be the office of Costa Rica's president and other top officials. Many slept on the floor, on the few mattresses or on chairs. A total of 236 arrived yesterday.
The planes that brought the Cubans carried little luggage, and the emigrants said most of their bags, jewelry, money and documents were taken from them by officials at the Cuban airport. Many also reported being beaten and having their jewelry robbed by mobs at the airport angered by the exodus.
"The government called us delinquents, but I'd like to know what they call those people at the airport who hit women and children," said one man, referring to Cuban charges that the 10,800 people who took refuge in the Peruvian Embassy were "vagabonds" and "delinquents."
The unexpected invasion of the embassy after Cuba withdrew its guards April 4 has damaged the prestige of the Cuban government and cooled its relations with Peru and Venezuela, which also has granted asylum to dissident Cubans. The guards were withdrawn for less than two days after a policeman was shot dead when a group of Cubans seeking asylum tried to force their way into the embassy.
Manuel Mendoza, 47, a Protestant minister, said a document certified by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana showing that he had an $18,000 inheritance in the United States taken from him in Havana.
He said that although his wife is a U.S. citizen, they had been trying since 1966 to get permission to leave Cuba with their three children.
Like Mendoza, many of the Cubans who arrived today said they had been disenchanted with the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro for many years.
While poor Cubans are generally considered to have benefited from Castro's efforts to redistribute resources, many rich or middle-class Cubans lost their holdings. Those who refused to participate in political activities officially considered the duty of every citizen thus came to be considered misfits in the new Cuban society.
Frank Gallardo, 35, said his father had been arrested for supporting the CIA-organized Bag of Pigs invasion in 1961.
"He was sentenced to nine years in prison and all his possessions were confiscated," Gallardo said. "I had trouble getting a job because I am the son of a political prisoner. I never liked communism and refused to join the militias so I couldn't enroll in the universities."
Gallardo, who worked as a stevedore, took his wife and their two sons, aged 4 and 11, to the embassy as soon as he saw that thousands were seeking asylum there.
"The government didn't pass out enough food, so we gave what there was to the children," Gallardo's wife said. "I ate orange and mango peels and one day all I ate was three avocado leaves with salt."
Two very thin men sitting across the room spoke up then, announcing that they had caught, roasted and eaten a cat.
"Finally, the children went three days without food. They cried and cried and cried," said Mrs. Gallardo. "We had to leave."
The first groups of Cubans to fly here were those who had accepted the government's offer of a safe-conduct pass to allow them to go home and wait for permission to leave Cuba. Some 6,000, mistrusting the government, have refused to leave the embassy. [Cuba denied Peruvian allegations that it had suspended issuance of exit visas to those still in the embassy, Reuter reported from Havana.]
Zoyla Rodriguez, 25, said she thought many of the people who went to the Peruvian Embassy did so because of economic problems. A former secretary in a municipal office in Havana, she said hundreds of people came to the office seeking jobs or welfare assistance.
Like Gallardo, Rodriguez came from a family whose holdings were confiscated by the revolution. Her husband, Roberto Herrera, 23, however, is the son of revolutionaries.
"I was chosen to join the Union of Young Communists when I was 14," he said. "But when I became 16 or 17, I became aware of the repression. People are obliged to go to meeting and demonstrations. If they don't participate it is put in their file at school or work."