Let’s not get our panties in a bunch now.

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.

5 thoughts on “Let’s not get our panties in a bunch now.”

  1. For Hector Palacios and his family and friends, this, indeed is a great day. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for all the reasons you mentioned and more. In my mind, the most significant thing to remember is this — that there are still more than 300 political prisoners in Cuba says more about the true nature of the regime than the fact that they would release one or two prisoners here and there.

    Brave men like Palacios are not pawns and we, i.e. the American government, should not treat them as such, responding to the release of Palacios with this concession or that. Instead, the response has to be more pressure on the regime to empty its jails of prisoners of conscience. It has to be all or nothing. If raul castro wants to sit down with the Americans, he first has to release ALL the political prisoners.

  2. I don’t see why people think this is such a tremendous sign, when just a few days ago the Cuban government took a new prisoner.

    His name is Ahmed Rodriguez Labacia. He’s a 21 year old independent journalist with Jóvenes Sin Censura.

    One prisoner of conscience is too many, no matter how many others they decide to release, and we all know there are many more than one left on the island. One tortured journalit is too many. If Hitler had let go of a few Jews, nobody would have called it reason to negotiate and ignore his human right record.

  3. The release of this dissident is good news, but what Cuba needs is INSTITUTIONAL change.

    I am happy for Palacios, but sad for the other prisoners, sad for all Cubans who feel silenced.

    I will truly rejoice when the SYSTEM changes, and people won’t be imprisoned for the mere act of holding their own opinion.

  4. The release of a political prisoner in Cuba means absolutely nothing.

    The government releases one well known political prisoner while at the same time incarcerates two or three unknown. Cuba’s totalitarian government can release political prisoners and incarcerate them again at the drop of a hat.

    The only way a political prisoner is certain not to be incarcerated again is to leave the country. Which by the way, it’s the government’s ultimate goal.

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