Cuban delegate seeks refuge in Chile after Pan American Games

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Cuban delegate who came to Santiago for the Pan American Games has requested refuge from Chilean immigration authorities, Chile's government said on Tuesday.

The government said 21 members of the delegation remain in Chile.

Local media in recent days reported that seven Cuban athletes, six of them women, left their residences in the Games village and cut off their communications with their delegation authorities.

The government initially said that visas allowed the Cuban delegates to stay for 90 days and the visas could be renewed for another 90 days, but later said the delegates had arrived not on tourist visas but on special Cuban passports, several of which expire in coming days.

Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve said none of the seven athletes cited in local media had so far requested refuge, but a request had been made by another person of Cuban nationality.

"The refugee law works with the temporary visa for a period of eight months, starting from the beginning of the refugee process," Monsalve said, adding that 391 of 412 Cubans who traveled to Chile for the games have now left the country.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Leslie Adler)