December 11, 2007 / 5:49 PM / 10 years ago

Popular Cuban TV presenter defects

MIAMI (Reuters) - One of Cuba’s most popular television personalities, humorist Carlos Otero, defected to the United States with his family, Miami’s Nuevo Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Otero, 49, asked for political asylum on Monday at the U.S. border with Canada, where he was producing a television show in Toronto. He was traveling with his wife and two children.

His interview show on Sunday evenings was one of the most viewed in Communist Cuba.

“I hope to earn a living in exile and see my children grow up with the opportunity to study what they want, without having to agree with the system,” Otero told the Nuevo Herald.

Otero said Cuba was “frozen in time” and Cubans lived in great uncertainty over their country’s future since Cuban leader Fidel Castro fell ill and dropped from public view 16 months ago.

The humorist said he pre-taped his traditional New Year’s Eve show before leaving for Toronto, but does not expect Cuba to air the program.

Cubans who defect to the United States, from Cuba’s top baseball players to popular musicians, are considered traitors and no longer mentioned publicly.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Sandra Maler

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