The Ladies in White march Sunday 23 May 2010 in Havana.

Orlando Márquez, director of the [Archdiocese of Havana’s] magazine Palabra Nueva [New Word] and of media relations for the Archdiocese of Havana stated today that there is no established date to begin the movement of political prisoners to their provinces as agreed by the regime. “It has never been said that the transfers would begin on Monday. What was said is that the negotiations about those transfers will begin this week” he said over the phone to members of this campaign.

Márquez also said that before the government’s promise was known, “there had been some political prisoners already transfer to hospitals.” For more details, Márquez refers all interested on the topic to data shared by Cardinal Jaime Ortega during his press conference last Thursday 20 May 2010.

Aside from that, he stated that the meeting between Raúl Castro and Jaime Ortega was “at the request of the Church.

Ladies in White are hopeful

A report sent from Havana by independent journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira, carries statements made yesterday by movement leader Laura Pollán after their weekly march. The journalist tells us that [the Ladies in White] had a third meeting with the Church on Saturday, and were received by Cardinal Jaime Ortega. “We continue to harbor many hopes”—she said to the press—“the conversations advance, and we expect, in God’s name, that their outcome will be most favorable for the [political] prisoners; not only [in the form of] a release, but also so that they [the government] transfer [to nearer facilities] those who are far away [from their homes].”

At the same time, she explained that political prisoner Manuel Ubals was transferred to his native Guantánamo. “They tolds us in the meeting at the Archdiocese that this is like a set of stairs, and that we cannot just jump over all the steps at once. We will proceed step by step, and that is why we have so much faith, [and] we are so hopeful that there will be good news.”

Pollán, the wife of independent journalist Héctor Maceda Gutiérrez, sentenced to 20 years during Cuba’s Black Spring along with 74 other opposition activists, added: “What is clear is that these will be staggered steps. We cannot think that they [the regime] will open the jail bars immediately, and that all will be released at simultaneously, no, it will be in a step by staggered fashion: we don’t know how much we will be able to climb, and how it will take between steps.”

If we think about it, in seven years—she added—the prisoners have been release on a yearly average of three [prisoners per year], there have only been 21 of them released because Reynaldo Labrada served [the whole sentence]. Anything they [the regime] do at this time is very important. There have been talks about [transfers to nearer facilities], [although] we don’t know when this will happen because we were not informed. However, until now, the government has never said when they will do things. We have found out that the prisoner is freed when Security of State comes looking for a relative or when he is brought home.”

But I think it is very important that those more gravely ill are released, as well as transferring those who are far away. We must continue [to be] united. With unity we can achieve little by little the liberation of the political prisoners. And we, as the relatives, the sisters to those men, are the ones called to continue on this struggle.”

Laura Pollán reiterated, as a conclusion: “Know that there will be Ladies in White on the streets as long as there are political prisoners in Cuba.”

for the freedom of all cuban political prisoners
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