Cuba releases 7 dissidents, allows them to travel abroad

Cuban government makes goodwill gesture to US by allowing seven dissidents to travel abroad ahead of President Obama’s visit

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A security officer talks to two police officers outside the courthouse where Spanish citizen Angel Carromero is on trial in Bayamo, Cuba, Oct. 5, 2012.

The Cuban government made a gesture to the United States by granting seven dissidents who are on parole a one-time permission to travel abroad, before US President Barack Obama's historic visit to the country 

Cuban Interior Ministry summoned seven dissidents who have been granted freedom, to inform them they would be allowed one trip abroad. Once the dissidents return to Cuba, they would resume serving their sentences out of prison with a ban on foreign travel.

"It appears to be some kind of gift they want to present to Obama, but in reality it is nothing concrete because when we come back we will return to legal limbo," said Martha Beatriz Roque, one of the seven dissidents.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council Peter Boogaard said that they welcomed such a news and added “we continue to encourage the Cuban government to allow the remaining four former prisoners to travel as well.”

Cuban government did not give permission to four other dissidents.

Obama is scheduled to visit Cuba on March 21-22.

First step towards normalisation of ties with the US came by Havana on December 2014 when the government released 53 prisoners whom Washington considered as political prisoners.

According to the dissident group Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation the communist government re-arrested some of them and two of them remained in jail.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional budget hearing on Wednesday that Washington is disappointed of re-arresting of individuals, but expected Cuba to release them.

"We believe they will be released ... and that signifies some listening, some movement," on the part of the Cuban government, Kerry said.

Cuba considers the opponents a tiny minority, which has lost legitimacy by accepting funding indirectly from the US government.

The 11 dissidents were among the 75 opponents who were detained during the 2003 Black Spring crackdown.

In March 2003, Cuban government arrested 75 individuals, including 29 journalists, allegedly receiving American government funding, collaborating with US diplomats and were accused of acting against the "integrity and sovereignty of the state."

With the intervention of the Roman Catholic Church and Spain, all 75 were released in 2010 and 2011 under the condition that they leave Cuba.

Eleven of the 75 detainees refused to leave their homeland and opted to remain in prison. But later they were allowed to continue serving their sentences out of prison with sentences ranging from 18 to 25 years.

TRTWorld and agencies