Inside her bedroom on Cuba's Isle of Youth, 7-year-old Daviana Gonzalez prays to be reunited with her mother after more than five years, relatives say. In Camaguy, Marta Daniela Batista, another little girl separated from her parents, is said to suffer from mental health problems.
The girls are children of Cuban medical professionals living in Miami who deserted their posts in various nations where the Cuban government sent them to help spread ideology and earn income for their cash-starved homeland.
But the price for desertion was higher than the families believed possible: The Cuban government is denying the little ones permission to leave, even though they have U.S. visas that would allow them to come here.
''Marta isn't to blame for what her parents did, and yet they punish her,'' said her mother, Melvis Mesa, 42. "She's just a child, and children have a right to be with their parents. What the Cuban government is doing is a terrible abuse.''
Mesa and Daviana's mother — Yaisis Gonzalez — are among more than a dozen Cuban health workers working with the Cuban American National Foundation, or CANF, on a campaign to get their children back. CANF representatives plan to file complaints against the Cuban government with international organizations, such as the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations.
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