Widow locked in international battle over American rebel's remains

Olga Morgan Goodwin is immersed in a diplomatic tangle that also involves U.S. and Cuban diplomats and a congresswoman.

01/04/2009 3:01 AM

01/05/2009 2:28 PM

Almost 50 years after William Morgan was executed by a Cuban firing squad, his relatives are trying to bring his remains home.

But the campaign has run into a diplomatic snag described as a ''nightmare'' by his widow, Olga Morgan Goodwin.

''This has been going on for too long, but I'm not going to go away,'' said the 72-year-old woman, who lives in Morgan's hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

The effort to repatriate the remains began nearly two years ago, when her lawyer, G. Opie Rollison, met with Cuban diplomats in Washington. ''They were helpful and agreed to begin the process,'' Rollison said.

But problems set in when the U.S. State Department became involved.

Officials told Rollison that he would not be able to travel to Havana to make arrangements, but that the State Department would handle the matter. ''It has been two years since they have been involved, with no results,'' he said Friday.

The State Department, however, said it was actively pursuing the matter.

''As recently as Dec. 17, the State Department met with the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, and reiterated the requests for Cuban authorities to work with our consular officials in Havana to facilitate the repatriation of Mr. Morgan's remains,'' a State Department official said in a written response.

But a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur told The Miami Herald that the Ohio Democrat has run into similar bureaucratic problems.

''We have run into a dead end with the State Department, but we will renew our efforts there in the interim and with the new administration,'' said the spokesman, Steve Fought. ``We have decided to make another run at it.''

Kaptur traveled to Cuba in 2002 and met with Fidel Castro, who agreed to release Morgan's remains from the Colón Cemetery, she said at the time.

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