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  HOME | Cuba

Cuban Ex-Prisoners Feel Tricked by Spanish Government

MADRID – The 11 Cuban dissidents set free and received in Spain said Monday that they feel “deceived” by the Spanish government for not keeping the promises made before they left Havana.

One of the freed prisoners, Julio Cesar Galvez, complained about their situation at a press conference held at the entrance to the Welcome Hostel in Madrid, where the dissidents have been staying since their arrival in Spain last Tuesday.

Accompanied by fellow dissident Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, Galvez read a communique in which the ex-prisoners expressed their disagreement with some European countries’ intention to modify the “Common Position” of the European Union toward Cuba, a policy that up to now has based dialogue with Cuba on the island’s progress toward democracy.

In their manifesto, the Cuban ex-prisoners in Madrid stressed that “the Cuban government has taken no steps to show a clear decision to proceed toward the democratization” of the country.

Galvez said they feel “deceived” by the Spanish government because, before getting on the airliner to Spain, they signed some documents for officials at the Spanish Embassy in Cuba containing certain commitments that have not been fulfilled.

They said that up to now “only the Spanish Red Cross” has offered them the aid promised by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government.

The Cuban dissident complained that the ex-prisoners, after arriving in Spain, stopped receiving legal counsel and have not had the economic aid they need to rent a place to live, shown by the fact that they are lodged in a hostel where the children have to share bathrooms with people who have “really serious health problems.”

The ex-prisoners said they were scheduled to meet later Monday with Agustin Santos, chief of staff to Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, to discuss their immediate future.

Although Galvez said that after the meeting he will analyze whether to accept the offer of moving to the eastern city of Alicante, he added that his initial intention is not to go “anywhere” but to stay in Madrid.

He said, however, that if he is put in the street, it will be “shameful for the Spanish government” because he never asked “to come to Spain.”

Galvez used his appearance before the press to show his passport giving him clearance to leave the country.

Another nine dissidents are expected to arrive in Madrid on Tuesday, also released in line with Havana’s pledge to free all 52 of the 75 dissidents rounded and up and jailed in the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003 still remaining behind bars.

The original announcement, made by Cuba’s Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, specified that five detainees would be released immediately and leave for Spain with their families. Since then, 15 more have agreed to go into what they hope will be temporary exile.

Those among the 52 prisoners who reject the option of going to Spain are to be freed in stages over the next three or four months.

Roughly a score of the Group of 75 were previously paroled on health grounds.

The prisoner releases followed the start in May of a dialogue between Cardinal Ortega and Cuban President Raul Castro. EFE

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