Twelve more prisoners of conscience have been added to the list of the first 5, which will be released in the “coming days,” according to the Cuban Catholic Church leadership.
Cuba Church announces release of 12 more prisoners
HAVANA (AP) — Cuban church officials on Saturday released the names of 12 more political prisoners who will be freed and sent into exile in the coming days under a landmark agreement with President Raul Castro’s government, bringing to 17 the total number of jailed dissidents who have accepted asylum in Spain.
While there has been no word on when exactly the men will be freed, there are growing signs that a release could be imminent, with the wife of one prisoner saying Cuban officials told her to prepare to leave the country.
“They (Cuban officials) called me to tell me to get ready to leave, because they would be around to get us,” Barbara Rojo, the wife of prisoner Omar Ruiz, told the Associated Press.
I believe the two phrases I highlighted in bold in the AP article excerpted above begin to shed light on the particulars behind this backroom deal. A deal, it should be noted, that Spain and Cardinal Jaime Ortega negotiated with the dictatorship for these dissidents without their knowledge or input.
First of all, I doubt the AP’s use of the phrases “sent into exile,” and “accept asylum in Spain” were used haphazardly, especially when both were used in conjunction to describe the “landmark agreement” between the regime, and Spain and the Cuban Catholic Church. Although seemingly innocuous in the way it was reported by the AP, it is becoming more and more obvious that everyone involved in those negotiations knew that the release of these Cubans, these brave dissidents, involved their forced exile and banishment from their own country.
Secondly, this may be the reason that after Cardinal Ortega claimed last Wednesday that prisoners were going to be released “within hours,” no prisoner has yet been set free. One possibility for the delay–besides the obvious fattening them up and letting bruises heal–could be that the regime is coercing these dissidents into signing statements accepting their forced exile as a condition to be released. This is only speculation on my part, but the AP has already reported that these 17 dissidents have “accepted asylum,” and this does fit right in with the regime’s method of operation and manipulation.
That the Castro regime is this vile and cruel comes as no surprise, and I guess we should not be surprised either that Spain and Cardinal Jaime Ortega helped the regime carry out this wicked act.