News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba Is Reported to Release 26 Dissidents

Cuba Is Reported to Release 26 Dissidents
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLDJAN. 8, 2015

MEXICO CITY — After a flurry of arrests in recent weeks raised questions
about its record, Cuba on Thursday released more than two
dozen dissidents, some of them believed to be among 53 it had agreed to
free last month as the United States and Cuba decided to normalize
diplomatic relations.

Cuban human rights groups and independent journalists said 26 people had
been released, but neither the State Department nor the Cuban government
has publicly identified the 53 prisoners that the Cubans had agreed to
release, so it was not clear how many of those just released were part
of the agreement.

A State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said it was “not the first
release of individuals on the list,” but she has refused to name them.

“We made a judgment that the best way to secure the release of these
individuals is to not name them publicly,” she said, asserting that
doing so would “put a target on their backs” even though they had
already been subject to arrest and imprisonment. “We know who’s on the
list. The Cuban government has assured us that they’re going to release
these individuals. We’re encouraging them to do that rapidly, and we’re
confident they’ll do that.”

The new releases follow an episode last week in which Cuba detained a
performance artist, Tania , three times in connection with her
plans to set up an open microphone in Havana’s Revolution Square on Dec.
30 and allow Cubans to speak their minds for a minute. The authorities
warned her that she lacked a permit, suggested a different venue and
then detained her and, according to groups, more than 50 other
people the day of the event.

The State Department condemned those arrests but officials, disinclined
to provoke the Cubans with a reconciliation underway, have been more
patient while awaiting the release of the 53 dissidents Raúl
Castro committed to on Dec. 17, when the countries announced a
swap and said that they would reopen embassies and exchange ambassadors.
President Obama also announced several measures to soften the
five-decade economic and encourage more and trade with Cuba.

Source: Cuba Is Reported to Release 26 Dissidents – NYTimes.com –
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/world/americas/cuba-is-reported-to-release-26-dissidents.html?_r=0

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