Oswaldo Paya on the forced exile of 52 Cuban political prisoners

Bringing back pleasant memories of better times when Cuba was their colony, Spain is celebrating the forced exile they managed to negotiate with the dictatorship. As in the olden days, Spain was able to achieve their goal of maintaining the Cuban people in serfdom by receiving help from Cubans on the island, namely, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. But while the Spanish government, Raul Castro, and Cardinal Ortega raise a glass of champagne to toast what they believe is a public relations success, the realization that this act amounts to nothing more than forced exile and banishment for these 52 prisoners of conscience is becoming more prevalent.

Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya has some very strong words regarding this banishment, which he shared with euronews in a phone interview from Havana:

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“The government is not talking to the people about this process. It is as if the people don’t have the right to know. The government is not talking to the opposition and if the government is releasing these men just to have them deported, then it means that there is no breakthrough. Instead, it will just be more of the same with more prisoners replacing the other ones.

Do we want this news? Yes, of course. We hope that this gesture will create a new political momentum for dialogue within Cuba but it has to be accompanied by freedom of speech, the freedom to travel, freedom to meet and a freedom of choice. After 51 years, the people of Cuba don’t want to wait any longer.”

“Today Cubans see that change is possible. But as long as they don’t have rights, as long as the law is not changed to guarantee those rights, there won’t be real change.”

“ But if a man has to choose between staying in jail or leaving his country, that is deportation. His dignity is not being respected. We respect the decision that each of the prisoners is making because their families have suffered a lot, although we demand liberation for all the prisoners with no conditions. That would be a real sign of change.”