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Thriller in Toronto
Tuesday, October 25, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

Eleven choir members vanish

Eleven members of a Cuban choir have vanished after a concert in Toronto, Canada. The Globe and Mail reports:

"They evaporated," said promoter Robert Missen, who brought the 40-member Coro Nacional de Cuba to Canada for a 13-city tour. "I'm told they're at a safe house in Toronto, with some help from a local church group."

Missen (whose name is also spelled Nissen in the article) says he didn't realize the eleven were missing until they didn't show up for a flight to British Columbia. He does say that the thought that some may defect did occur to him.

Update - The London Free Press reports that 20 of the choir members have, in fact, defected.

Members of the National Chorus of Cuba dodged security officers and jumped into waiting cars, some on Sunday and others yesterday, said Cuban exiles who planned the defections.

"These people are scared for their lives," said Ismail Sambra, president of the Cuban Canadian Foundation. "They are worried about their families back home."

Worried for their families back home - who are living in a workers' paradise.

Ernest, 27, a baritone, who didn't want to use his last name, said he left behind his wife and young daughter.

"Cuban police will probably tell my family I am a traitor to the revolution," he said. "They will put pressure on my family."

Jessica, 30, a soprano, said she used her voice as a way to escape from Cuba. "I want to improve my life and bring my family here."

May all who want to stay in a free country be granted asylum - and may they improve their lives and the lives of their relatives.


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