The United States will go before the Organization of American States tomorrow in search of help in resettling thousands of Cuban, Haitian and other Western Hemisphere refugees who have landed on American shores in recent months.
The meeting with the OAS, to be held here, will be the fourth forum to which the U.S. government has taken its appeal for a hemispheric solution to the refugee problem, so far with little apparent success.
Two meetings with leaders of Latin American and Western European countries were held in the last three months in San Jose, Costa Rica. The second San Jose meeting produced a communique describing the U.S. viewpoint that other nations should share in helping the refugees.
"The U.S. position on this whole refugee matter is that, basically, it is a problem for the Western Hemisphere, rather than just a concern for the United States," said a State Department source, who requested anonymity.
"We've been making efforts here and elsewhere to try to raise that level of consciousness."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Donald McHenry presented the San Jose communique last week to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, which has been meeting in Geneva. But the presentation was opposed by Cuban government officials, who insisted that the recent flow of 117,000 refugees to the United States "is a bilateral problem between the United States and Cuba" that does not require a hemispheric solution, the source said.
Tomorrow's season will mark "the first time that the OAS has taken up consideration of the refugee question," the source added.
"The plan is to have Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher make what is basically an informational statement describing the refugee problem, the U.S. experience, and talking about future dealings with refugees in the Western Hemisphere," the source said.
He refused to go into further detail.
Meanwhile, some of the problems generated by refugee influx spawned by the Cuba-to-Key West, Fla., sealift that began April 21 are cropping up in Miami.
An estimated 750 resettled Cuban refugees who have been jilted by their sponsors are living in Miami's Orange Bowl stadium, Miami and federal officials said yesterday.
"The problem is that a lot of them had sponsors who were fakes," said Cesar Odio, Miami assistant city manager.
"They had friends who came and pulled them out of the different camps, but who, once they got them out, said, 'Okay, we got you out. But we don't have to feed and house you after we get you to Miami.'"
Odio said the city, with assistance from the State Department, is doing its best to find new homes for the rejected refugees, but the impending opening of the Miami Dolphins exhibition football season is adding a touch of desperation to the reresettlement effort.
In a related development, U.S. Coast Guard officials in Miami said yesterday they plan to continue their three-month-old blockade of the Florida Straits that has showed the flow of Cuban refugees to a trickle.
"We're programmed to be in place well through the summer, possibly to as late as October," said Coast Guard Lt. Norris Turner in a telephone interview.
"There is an indication that if we were not there to intercept, we would have many more people coming in," Turner said.
State Department officials in Florida said yesterday that about 100 Cuban refugees daily are finding their way to the United States -- down from about 6,000 a day several months ago. from about 6,000 a day several months ago.