HAVANA – Cuban dissident Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, a member of the Group of 75 and one of the prisoners of conscience who is rejecting going into exile as a condition for his freedom, was released from prison and returned to his Havana home along with his family after seven years behind bars.
Ramos, sentenced to 18 years in prison in the so-called “Black Spring” repression of 2003, left prison on Saturday, hours after the Catholic Church announced the release, first by telephone to his wife Lidia and later in a communique.
This was the first political prisoner to be released who had not agreed to be transferred to Spain since the current process of freeing dozens of convicted dissidents was announced in July.
Ramos returned to his home under the auspices of a “humanitarian extra-penal license,” according to the official notice issued by the Church, but the dissident said that Cuban security officials confirmed to him that he was freed “without conditions.”
His intention is to remain in Cuba and continue fighting for “democracy and liberty,” the 68-year-old Ramos, who was the oldest prisoner still behind bars from among the Group of 75, said.
He did not fail to recall in his remarks that 11 of his companions who also do not want to leave Cuba are still in jail and he reminded the government of the commitment it made in July to release them all.
Ramos was a member of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists when in 2003 he was convicted of anti-revolutionary activities.
Also on Saturday, it became known that Luis Enrique Ferrer, another of the political prisoners in the Group of 75, will be released soon but in his case he has agreed to go to Spain.
The 38-year-old Ferrer Garcia belongs to the Christian Liberation Movement and was sentenced to 28 years in prison in the Black Spring crackdown.
Last July, the Cuban government promised to release over the course of “three or four months” the 52 dissidents who remained in prison from the Group of 75, a move it agreed to within the framework of the unprecedented dialogue undertaken by President Raul Castro and the Catholic Church, talks that had the backing of Spain.