Cuba “briefly delays” release of 13 political prisoners
Posted on Thursday, 11.11.10
Cuba briefly delays release of 13 political prisoners
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
One of the 13 Cuban political prisoners who were expected to be released last weekend has reported that he was told by one government official that he would be freed within 15 to 30 days.
The report is the first sign of a possible new release date for the 13, after the unofficial deadline of Sunday passed without word from the Cuban government or Catholic church.
Alejandrina García, the wife of Diosdado González, said he told her Tuesday night that a senior State Security official in his home province of Matanzas visited him in prison Tuesday and told him he would be freed in 15 days to one month.
The official told González that that government’s promise to release the 13 “had not been broken” but gave no details on the reason for the delay or the new release dates, García said by phone from her home in Matanzas.
There was no immediate word on whether the other 12 dissidents had also been approached by government officials with word on possible release dates.
Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega announced on July 7 that the Raúl Castro government had agreed to release 52 jailed dissidents — the last still imprisoned from a 2003 crackdown on 75 opposition activists — in the next “three to four months.”
The government has released 39 of the 52 plus seven others convicted of violent crimes such as hijacking boats or airplanes to escape the island — and sent them directly to exile in Spain — The remaining 13 have been refusing to go into exile if freed.
García said she spoke with her husband by phone Tuesday morning and learned that he had declared a hunger strike since Sunday to protest the continued imprisonment of the 13 dissidents.
She urged him to abandon the hunger strike, García told El Nuevo Herald, because their 14-month-old granddaughter is hospitalized with anemia “and I felt very badly already, very stressed.”
González called her again Tuesday night to report the visit by the state security official known only as “Ervin” and that he had abandoned the hunger strike, García said.
“We don’t know if this is for real or a government trick to make him halt the strike,” García added.
Another of the 13, Luis Enrique Ferrer, has apparently agreed to leave for Spain if the government allows some of his relatives to take legal possession of his home, said Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez. Cubans face a critical housing shortage and tight controls on transfering real estate.
Government officials have told Ferrer that his request will be met, and he is likely to be freed soon, said Sánchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
The Ladies in White, a group of women relatives of jailed dissidents, meanwhile met with Spanish diplomats in Havana Wednesday to seek an explanation for the delays. Former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos took part in the July 7 meeting between Ortega and Castro.
The Spanish diplomats told the women to have “faith and hope” that the men will be released.