Two plane loads of Cuban exiles have arrived in Venezuela at the start of a massive airlift operation.
SV PULL OUT TO GV Venezuelan aircraft on tarmac at Caracas with Cuban exiles walking on tarmac (2 shots)
GV SV & CU Venezuelan officials interviewing and fingerprinting Cubans (6 shots)
GV Cuban exiles standing in group to be photographed
GV Cubans being photographed by officials
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Background: Two plane loads of Cuban exiles have arrived in Venezuela at the start of a massive airlift operation. Venezuela has agreed to accept up to two thousand former political prisoners and the first group arrived in Caracas on Sunday (24 December).
SYNOPSIS: Twenty three Cuban exiles and their families arrived in the Venezuelan capital on Christmas Eve (24 December to begin new lives. Another flight brought a second batch of former political prisoners to Caracas on Christmas Day (25 December).
Cuba announced last month that all former political prisoners -- who number about fourteen thousand in all -- could leave the country if they wished. The Cuban Government has also agreed to free more than three thousand prisoners, still in jail. Although the Communist-controlled island does not officially celebrate Christmas, some four hundred prisoners were released over the festive season, and the Government of President Fidel Castro has undertaken to free at least that many every month.
More flights are expected to bring Cuban exiles to Venezuela in the New Year. The United States has agreed to accept up to four hundred former prisoners a month. Immigration officials are still busy completing registration procedures and the first batch is expected to arrive in the United States in January.