List of 53 Cuban political prisoners may be misleading

The list of the 53 political prisoners released from Cuba in a historical move this year is being called into question. The Miami Herald reports that 31 of the 53 names belonged to members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU in Spanish), the largest and most active opposition group on the island. Among their crimes were dangerousness, public disorder, resisting arrest, distributing anti-government leaflets, and disrespecting the Castro brothers. Three human rights activists included in the list had already fully served their sentences according to the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, when they were released as part of Cuba’s historic deal with President Barack Obama. The deal is meant to reestablish diplomatic relations between both countries. Ferrer alleges that four members of the group “had fulfilled every minute of their arbitrary sentences,” and they should have been released separately from this agreement. Those four men are Jorge Cervantes, Eider Frómeta Allen, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria and Eliso Castillo González. SEE ALSO: Cuba prisoners release doesn’t change anything Cuban dissidents also argue that the list contains at least 14 people who were released before the announcement of the agreements between the US and Cuba on December 17. Frómeta González Castillo and Allen were released in July and García Cervantes in August after exhausting their sentences. Another prisoner, César Andrés Sánchez Pérez was released almost a year ago, but the list was supposedly completed in July, as reported by Reuters. In the meantime, Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) told the Miami Herald that the US Interest Section (USINT or Sección de Intereses de Estados Unidos en La Habana in Spanish) had kept in touch with his organization during releases, but he was not consulted for making the final list. According to Sanchez, the list was drawn up in Washington, from information gathered by the USINT, as well as data from the CCDHRN and other organizations that monitor human rights on the island, as stated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “We have worked with human rights groups in Cuba that have been able to verify that these individuals have been released,” Earnest said in a meeting with reporters Tuesday. He says that the list was one they reviewed, negotiated and discussed at length so it was not something that they gave the Castro regime the day before the announcement. SEE ALSO: Cuba releases political prisoners left of group of 53 in diplomatic deal Sanchez noted that the administration of President Barack Obama seems to have emphasized prisoners with short sentences and who had not been charged with a violent crime. “But if they had consulted us, we had called for the release of those serving long sentences or who have health problems,” he said. The opposition gave the example of eight people who were sentenced to long prison sentence for trying to smuggle weapons to Cuba. They had already served almost 20 years and yet they are being released as if it were a great mercy given to them. Earnest told reporters that the US government’s effort to secure the release of other political prisoners who are unjustly detained in Cuba continues and that one of the reasons why the administration was opposed to publish the list was to avoid giving the impression that these were the only 53 political prisoners that matter. He insists more prisoners will be released but these 53 were simply the first wave.The post List of 53 Cuban political prisoners may be misleading appeared first on Voxxi.

A day after his release, dissident Miguel Alberto Ulloa, 25, holds his son, as he walks beside a water tank painted with the acronym for the United States and his country’s name, outside his home, in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Some activists say that of the report of 53 Cuban dissidents recently released by the Castro government can be misleading. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The list of the 53 political prisoners released from Cuba in a historical move this year is being called into question. The Miami Herald reports that 31 of the 53 names belonged to members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU in Spanish), the largest and most active opposition group on the island.

Among their crimes were dangerousness, public disorder, resisting arrest, distributing anti-government leaflets, and disrespecting the Castro brothers. Three human rights activists included in the list had already fully served their sentences according to the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, when they were released as part of Cuba’s historic deal with President Barack Obama. The deal is meant to reestablish diplomatic relations between both countries.

A day after his release, Wilberto Parada, 42, center, is reflected in a mirror with his son and wife, during an interview, in his home in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A day after his release, Wilberto Parada, 42, center, is reflected in a mirror with his son and wife, during an interview, in his home in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Ferrer alleges that four members of the group “had fulfilled every minute of their arbitrary sentences,” and they should have been released separately from this agreement. Those four men are Jorge Cervantes, Eider Frómeta Allen, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria and Eliso Castillo González.

SEE ALSO: Cuba prisoners release doesn’t change anything

Cuban dissidents also argue that the list contains at least 14 people who were released before the announcement of the agreements between the US and Cuba on December 17. Frómeta González Castillo and Allen were released in July and García Cervantes in August after exhausting their sentences. Another prisoner, César Andrés Sánchez Pérez was released almost a year ago, but the list was supposedly completed in July, as reported by Reuters.

In the meantime, Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) told the Miami Herald that the US Interest Section (USINT or Sección de Intereses de Estados Unidos en La Habana in Spanish) had kept in touch with his organization during releases, but he was not consulted for making the final list.

According to Sanchez, the list was drawn up in Washington, from information gathered by the USINT, as well as data from the CCDHRN and other organizations that monitor human rights on the island, as stated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

“We have worked with human rights groups in Cuba that have been able to verify that these individuals have been released,” Earnest said in a meeting with reporters Tuesday. He says that the list was one they reviewed, negotiated and discussed at length so it was not something that they gave the Castro regime the day before the announcement.

SEE ALSO: Cuba releases political prisoners left of group of 53 in diplomatic deal

A day after his release, dissident Wilberto Parada, 42, sits for an interview in his home in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Advocates, relatives and dissidents say that Cuba has freed at least 38 people on a U.S. list of imprisoned opposition members. U.S. officials said Friday after weeks of virtual silence that those released had been on the list of 53. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A day after his release, dissident Wilberto Parada, 42, sits for an interview in his home in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Advocates, relatives and dissidents say that Cuba has freed at least 38 people on a U.S. list of imprisoned opposition members. U.S. officials said Friday after weeks of virtual silence that those released had been on the list of 53. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Sanchez noted that the administration of President Barack Obama seems to have emphasized prisoners with short sentences and who had not been charged with a violent crime. “But if they had consulted us, we had called for the release of those serving long sentences or who have health problems,” he said.

The opposition gave the example of eight people who were sentenced to long prison sentence for trying to smuggle weapons to Cuba. They had already served almost 20 years and yet they are being released as if it were a great mercy given to them.

Earnest told reporters that the US government’s effort to secure the release of other political prisoners who are unjustly detained in Cuba continues and that one of the reasons why the administration was opposed to publish the list was to avoid giving the impression that these were the only 53 political prisoners that matter. He insists more prisoners will be released but these 53 were simply the first wave.

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