posted on Sunday, July 18, 2010
The Miami Herald publishes today an extensive report by Fabiola Santiago on the Cuban political prisoners exiled to Spain:
11 Cuban prisoners, expatriated to Spain, are weary, ailing, defiant and free
After years in windowless cells, they find themselves reunited with family but deprived of their homeland.
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
MADRID -- Packed into a hostel named Welcome that advertises lodging for about $18 a night -- the same as a cab ride to this industrial hub 10 miles away from the city center -- the 11 freed Cuban prisoners who arrived this week with their families face an uncertain future in a country reeling from economic woes.
The ex-prisoners are not euphoric, as one might expect newly freed men to be, and despite the crisp white shirt, dress slacks, leather shoes and striped tie with which the Cuban government put them on a plane to the Spanish capital, the men look weathered by their whirlwind transatlantic flight and seven years of incarceration in windowless cells alongside common prisoners.
"I can't enjoy anything. I can't feel free as long as there is a political prisoner in Cuba. How can I be happy with all I left behind?'' asks Mijail Barzaga Lugo, 43, who served time in four different prisons for filing news reports about life in Cuba to CubaNet and Radio Martí.
Barzaga and the others are part of a group of 75 independent journalists and peaceful dissidents jailed in the massive crackdown of 2003 known as the Black Spring. These 11 freed prisoners are the first of 52 scheduled to be released and expatriated to Spain in the next four months under an agreement negotiated by the Spanish government and the island's highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. Two others from the group of 75 -- the poet and columnist Raul Rivero, released in 2005, and Alejandro Gonzalez Raga, released in 2008 -- also were resettled here.
Besides Barzaga, those who arrived between Tuesday and Thursday were Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, Lester Gonzalez, Omar Ruiz, Antonio Villareal, Julio Cesar Galvez, Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, Pablo Pacheco, Omar Rodriguez Saludes, Normando Hernandez Gonzalez, and Luis Milan. All were accompanied by family members, some of them members of the support group Ladies in White, who marched every Sunday in Havana to demand the prisoners' freedom.
Read the rest at the link.