Cuban woman will get visa to help ailing sister in Miami


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U.S. diplomats in Havana have agreed to issue an emergency visa to a Cuban woman who was initially denied permission to travel to Miami to donate bone marrow to a sister suffering from leukemia, relatives and U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Alina Ortega was rejected when she applied for a visitor’s U.S. visa on Dec. 3, even though she presented a letter from her sister’s oncologist at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center and a document showing she was a matching donor.

U.S. Interests Section officials gave the unemployed nurse from Artemisa southwest of Havana a letter saying that she “had not been able to show that the purpose of her trip to the United States was consistent with classification of the non-immigrant visa you requested.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, issued a statement Wednesday saying that officials at the Interests Section agreed to reverse the decision after she contacted them on behalf of a constituent, Damay Ortega, who suffers from leukemia.

“The report that a non-immigrant visa for Alina Ortega has been approved is a happy one,” Ros-Lehtinen said. Damay’s family “will have more hope in the future to watch how a wife, mother and sister sees her children grow and she herself grows old alongside her husband.”

Damay’s mother-in-law, Bertina Rodriguez, said Wednesday that Alina got a phone call from the U.S. Interests Section, which acts as an embassy in the absence of full diplomatic relations, to return for another interview Thursday but was not directly promised a visa.

Her husband, Deiby Canovas, said he had no details but believed “that everything is on the way to being resolved.” His wife was receiving treatment at the Sylvester Center on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, he added.

Damay Ortega, 43, had said on Tuesday that she and Canovas and their son migrated to Miami in 2007. She has been unemployed for several months because of the leukemia and the family has been living with relatives.

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