HAVANA – There are at least 87 political prisoners currently in Cuba’s prisons, according to a report by the opposition Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission released on Monday.
“The Cuban government continues to have the highest number of political prisoners in the entire Western hemisphere,” the commission, headed by Elizardo Sanchez, said.
Six of the 87 people cited by the commission have been designated by Amnesty International as Prisoners of Conscience.
Of the 87 people jailed in Cuba for their political views and/or activities, at least 11 are serving sentences of life behind bars and “remain in isolation cells under cruel, inhumane and degrading and totally unprotected conditions,” the commission said.
The commission recalled that, besides the political prisoners who are in jail, there are another 15 people who were released on probation, a practice that keeps the sentence intact and which this group considers to be a “sword of Damocles” because “they can be reincarcerated ... by way of a simple and unappealable decision by the police.”
In mid-2010, Cuban President Raul Castro, with the mediation of the Catholic Church, launched a process of releasing political prisoners that included the gradual freeing of more than 100 inmates, although the majority of them left prison under the condition that they go into exile in Spain.
In late 2011, the island’s government authorized a massive amnesty for almost 3,000 prisoners of all kinds, including six people who had been jailed for political reasons.