The more than 200 political prisoners being held in Cuba received the support this week of the Spanish association Cuba in Transition which, together with Reporters Without Borders, analyzed the state of human rights on the island at a recent conference.
During the event, Hector Palacios, one of the main dissident leaders released in 2006 after three years in prison, said the situation facing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience remains “dramatic.” He warned that 34 of the 234 political prisoners will die in prison if they are not released.
“If there were a minimum of justice, there would be no political prisoners in Cuba and most of the others would be freed,” Palacios said, stressing that political prisoners in Cuba or anywhere else “should be granted freedom.” He called on Spain to collaborate because “to speak about Cuba and Spain is to speak about distinct lands that share the same blood.”
Regarding the changes that need to happen in Cuba, Palacios said they are essential and that “the policy that has been imposed at gunpoint upon such a kind and hardworking nation should be radically changed.”
Rafael Rubio, president of the Spanish association Cuba in Transition, said the transitional government of Raul Castro “has done nothing to change the situation.” He added that Communist authorities use detentions in order to intimidate others who wish to protest or express an opinion different than that of the regime.
The secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, Rafael Jimenez Claudin, said 24 journalists are currently imprisoned and that the organization would not recognize any transition as long as “the freedom of information is not guaranteed so that Cubans can truly know what the world today is like.”
He also pointed out that RWB has had to battle the “radical left in Spain” in order to get recognition of the reality that there are political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Cuba.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an entity not recognized by the Cuban government, said in a report recently that there are currently 234 political prisoners in Cuba. The report revealed that while 12 prisoners have completed their sentences and been released during the last six months, during that same time, nine other Cubans have been imprisoned for reasons of conscience.
Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, said in a recently recorded message that while he would “like to be able to say that human rights have improved in Cuba, [but] we can’t confuse that desire with the truth.”