MADRID – Three Cuban dissidents recently released from jail by the island’s communist government arrived Friday in Madrid from Havana as part of the accord reached between President Raul Castro and Cuba’s Catholic hierarchy.
Nelson Molinet, Hector Raul Valle and Jose Miguel Martinez arrived with a score of family members at Barajas International Airport on an Iberia flight before being taken to the hotel where they will stay while determining their final destination in Spain.
“Exile was our only alternative,” Martinez said in a statement to Efe upon his arrival in Madrid.
Relatives confirmed in Havana that dissident Miguel Galvan Gutierrez would be freed and will arrive Saturday in Spain with his family.
“We do not come in a spirit of rebuking the Cuban authorities. What we want is for a pardon to exist and that Cubans be capable of sitting down to talks,” Jose Miguel Martinez said in his statement.
The arrival of the three dissidents in Spain on Friday, plus that of Miguel Galvan on Saturday, brings to 36 the number of political prisoners that have accepted what they hope will be temporary exile in Spain by virtue of the dialogue process between the Castro government and the Cuban Catholic Church, with the support of the Spanish government.
Molinet, Valle, Martinez and Galvan are all part of the group of 52 political prisoners that the Cuban regime promised to free before the end of next month.
All these dissidents are members of the “Group of 75,” jailed during the harsh crackdown of March 2003.
After the latest release of prisoners, 16 other dissidents of the Group of 75 still remain in jail.
“Change must come. They can’t go on like this,” Molinet told Efe.
The ex-prisoner described what it is like these days on the island, where “salaries are slavish, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of opinion,” and the “political will to create one country for all” simply does not exist.
A colorful note was added to the arrival of the ex-prisoners by Hector Raul Valle, who sang a song in honor of the dissident Orlando Zapata, who died in jail after a long hunger strike, and another to the Ladies in White, the group of human-rights activists made up of family members of the jailed dissidents. EFE