The release of dissident Hector Palacios – one of the original 75 jailed in 2003 – has caused a bit of a stir in some circles where the theory is that this latest release is proof that raul castro’s government is beginning to make concessions in order to ease relations and extend an “olive branch” to the US. Now, farbeit for me to rain on anyone’s parade, and I certainly do hope that more prisoners of conscience are released from their hell, but I urge all to take this recent event with a bit skepticism.
The release of Cuban political prisoners is nothing new and is standard operating procedure for the Cuban government. Every time there is international pressure regarding Cuba’s human rights issues, the Cuban government releases one or two of their political prisoners in a display of their magnanimity.
It happened in 2004 with the release of 6 dissidents after much ado from the European Union. It happened in 2005 with the sporatic release of a few more dissidents after more negative publicity from international sources. Political prisoners are the Cuban government’s leverage. Always have been and right now there really is no reason to believe otherwise.
Im not trying to sour anyone’s optimism – and again, I do hope more prisoners are released and, should that be the case, I will eat a large heaping portion of humble pie – but let’s not all trip over ourselves chasing this dangling carrot.
If raul castro’s government is serious about easing relations and coming to the proverbial table for “negotiations“, there better be quite a few more empty prison cells in Cuba.