HAVANA – At least five political prisoners are included among the more than 2,900 convicts released on the basis of a pardon announced by Cuba’s Communist government last week, the opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said Tuesday.
Commission spokesman Elizardo Sanchez told Efe that he has confirmed the release of two additional political prisoners following Monday’s freeing of Carlos Martinez Ballester, Yordani Martinez Carvajal and Walfrido Rodriguez Piloto.
The latest to be let out of jail are Iran Gonzalez Torna, who since 1990 has been serving a 25-year sentence for piracy, and Augusto Guerra Marquez, jailed for 10 years in 1996 for assault on authority.
The commission said previously that Martinez Carvajal and Rodriguez Piloto were sentenced for taking part in a public protest, while Martinez Ballester served four years of a 15-year sentence for the crime of “revealing state security secrets.”
The mother of Carlos Martinez Ballester, Pilar Ballester, told Efe that her son was freed Sunday and is now back with his family in Havana.
None of the official media or sources on the island has reported the release of prisoners taking place following President Raul Castro’s announcement Friday before parliament that it would occur in the coming days.
“At least 66 Cubans are still doing time for political reasons” including 16 who are free on parole, the human rights commission said Tuesday.
The unofficial number of people benefited by the pardon up to now is around 2,920.
Castro said that a humanitarian pardon would be granted to more than 2,900 convicts.
He also announced that 86 foreigners from 25 countries would be freed on condition that their native countries accept their repatriation.
The measure responds to “established policy” as well as to the pleas of “families and religious institutions,” Gen. Castro said.
Not to be included in the pardon, except for certain exceptions, are criminals in jail for crimes of espionage, terrorism, homicide, drug trafficking, rape and other sexual offenses, and armed robbery.
The commission estimates that in Cuba there are between 70,000 and 80,000 people behind bars. EFE