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Paroled refugees reach United States

A planeload of refugees paroled into the United States from the camps on the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reached Florida on Saturday.

A group of 35 arrived at Homestead Air Reserve Base south of Miami. Eleven are Cuban refugees who have been paroled into the United States because of urgent medical problems.

The refugees were to be processed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service before being reunited with their relatives, said base spokesman Maj. Bobby D'Angelo. After that, refugee service organizations will handle their resettlement, said Fernando Rojas of the Cuban American National Foundation.

Also on the plane was the body of an 84-year-old Cuban man who died of heart failure last month at Guantanamo. His body was shipped over for burial, accompanied by his widow, their daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter, Rojas said.

"His wife is very, very ill. She only has about 20 percent use of her heart," Rojas said Saturday. "She didn't want to leave Guantanamo until the remains of her husband could also be brought. We were able to accomplish that. It wasn't easy."

Accompanying the ill refugees were relatives, a Cuban refugee liaison and a 12-year-old Haitian-American boy who had been at Guantanamo since July 4, Maj. Rick Thomas, spokesman for the joint task force running the refugee operation at the Cuban base, said in a telephone interview.