Cuba to release last two prisoners of its “Black Spring”
Cuba to release last two prisoners of its "Black Spring"
Mar 22, 2011, 17:40 GMT
Havana – Cuban authorities are to release the last two dissidents who
remained in prison out a group of 75 arrested in the so-called 'Black
Spring' of March 2003, the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba said Tuesday.
Felix Navarro and Jose Daniel Ferrer, regarded as political prisoners by
Amnesty International, refuse to leave Cuba once they are released. They
were both serving 25-year prison sentences after being convicted of
being 'mercenaries' in the service of the United States.
The Archdiocese of Havana also announced the release of 11 other
prisoners who are to travel to Spain once they leave prison. Five of
these are on a list of political prisoners drafted by the dissident
umbrella organization Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCDHRN) and were serving 4-30 year prison sentences for
crimes like 'terrorism,' 'contempt' or 'disobedience.'
In July, Cuban bishops and the government of Cuban President Raul Castro
finalized a deal for the release of 52 prisoners of the group of 75
imprisoned in 2003 who remained behind bars at the time. Of these, 40
have already travelled to Spain with their families, while 12 rejected
exile but were also released.
The Black Spring arrests prompted a wave of international criticism on
communist Cuba and led the European Union to call off cooperation with
the island, which was only officially relaunched in 2008.
In light of the Roman Catholic mediation effort, scores of other
prisoners have also travelled to Spain with their families after being
released in recent months.
According to the Archdiocese of Havana, so far 114 prisoners have
accepted the proposal to leave prison and travel to Spain since July.
The CCDHRN says there are around 50 political prisoners left in Cuba,
about a quarter of the number in January 2010.
The Cuban government denies holding any political prisoners, insisting
that they have all been tried and convicted of common crimes.