MOSCOW -- As the tide of communism recedes from the Soviet Union, six Cubans find themselves in a bizarre position -- hiding in Moscow to avoid returning to the island.
"It's strange, I know. But the point is just to stay any place so long as we don't have to go back to Cuba," said Havana native Oscar Aguirre.
Several hundred Cuban students and laborers sent to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are now trying to linger in the new democracies. A few in the Soviet Union are trying to figure out how to sneak into Sweden to take advantage of its easy asylum laws. Many want to make their way to Spain.
In Moscow alone, some 100 Cubans have chosen to stay, Aguirre said, some because they oppose President Fidel Castro and others who still support Castro but simply like it better here.
Aguirre, 25, his wife and four friends are among the few who must hide from Soviet authorities and keep an eye out for Cuban security agents as well, because their passports have expired and they lack Soviet residency and work permits.
"But of course they know very well that politics is behind all this, that people don't want to go back to Cuba because the situation there is really hard and because Fidel is crazy," he said.