Cuban political prisoners banished to Spain threaten hunger strike
A group of Cuban prisoners of conscience who were banished to Spain in a backroom deal made between the Castro dictatorship and the Cuban Catholic Church and government of Spain are threatening to start a hunger strike to protest harsh and inhumane treatment by the Spanish authorities.
Cuban political prisoners in Spain threaten hunger strike over treatment
Three former Cuban political prisoners and 15 relatives living in northern Spain are threatening a hunger strike unless authorities resolve the “chaotic” conditions of their exile, complaining that they fall short of the welcome promised by the Spanish government.
“They are treating us like simple immigrants,” said Erick Caballero, one of the more than 100 political prisoners freed by Cuba over the past year after they agreed to go directly from jail to the Havana airport and flights to Madrid.
Spain’s Socialist government promised a broad range of benefits to the former prisoners and nearly 900 of their relatives, but many have complained that they were all but abandoned once they landed in Madrid.
The latest complaints came from Caballero, who arrived April 8 and along with two other former political prisoners, 15 other adults and six children were sent to a Spanish Red Cross migrant reception center in Torrelavega, in the northern province of Cantabria.
Caballero said he and the 17 other adults will launch a hunger strike if authorities cannot resolve their complaints. “Their care for us has been chaotic,” he told El Nuevo Herald by telephone.
He said medical care has been difficult — a woman who was treated for cancer in Cuba and now has pains could not get a doctor’s appointment until next year — and some of the new arrivals have not been able to attend job seminars because there’s no money for transportation.
The promised pocket money of 49 Euros a month, about $70, was not delivered until last week, Caballero added. The 177 Euros promised for clothing has been delivered to only some of the newly arrived Cubans.
The food at the refugee center, a converted maternity hospital, has been awful and its activities are highly regimented, he said.
“I came out of a high security prison, and here they have a schedule for everything — bathe, eat, go out, watch television,” said Caballero.