Friday, August 20, 2010

Exiles emphasize Cuban people's lack of hope

Exiles emphasize Cuban people's lack of hope
Aug, 19, 2010 01:49 PM - EFE Ingles
By Alida Juliani.

Madrid, Aug 19 (EFE).- Freed Cuban political prisoners Fabio Prieto
Llorente and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, who arrived on Thursday in
Madrid with some of their relatives, said they were happy to be out of
prison but also saddened by the "lack of hope" that exists on the
communist island.

The dissidents were received at the hotel in the Madrid area town of
Mostoles where other released prisoners are staying, some of the score
of opposition figures - and their wives - who have arrived in Spain
since July 13.

Amid welcoming embraces and shouts of "Viva Cuba!" and "Viva Zapata!" -
a reference to political prisoner Orlando Zapata, who died behind bars
in February after an 85-day-hunger strike - Prieto and Herrera said they
wanted to thank the Catholic Church and the Spanish government for their
efforts to bring about their release from prison.

"We were prisoners for saying what we thought, and now they're freeing
us after 7 1/2 years of torture and abuses. I was in punishment and
torture cells, full of plagues of mosquitoes, with terrible heat. We've
suffered a long and harsh imprisonment, but hate must not predominate at
any time," Prieto said.

In Cuba, there exists a "spiritual vacuum," he said. "There's no
development, everything is at a standstill, the people want to leave the
country however they can."

Herrera expressed himself along the same lines and asked the world "to
think of the Cuban people, of the children who are suffering and of all
those who are in prison for their way of thinking."

He said that he had been tortured "worse than a savage beast" during the
13 years he spent in prison, "and ... the Castro (brothers) continue to
be there. Let nobody expect that there are going to be changes with
them. They are disguised capitalists who have been bleeding our nation
for 51 years."

"I think the dictatorship is expiring, it's time for its death to be
announced because it doesn't work, because it doesn't want to liberalize
either the economy or its political regime," Herrera said.

The two dissidents called attention to the situation of the mother of
Orlando Zapata because "they want to murder her."

"It's not enough for them to have taken the life of her son. Now, they
don't allow her to walk to a church to pray for him. Therefore, we're
calling upon the whole world, on the EU (European Union) and the
community of democratic nations to speak out against this outrage, this
barbarism," Herrera said.

Prieto said that he had the chance to speak with Zapata's mother before
he left Cuba and she expressed to him her fear over the situation she is

With the arrival in Spain this past week of another five freed Cuban
political prisoners and some of their close relatives, the total number
of prisoners released within the framework of the dialogue process
between the Cuban Catholic Church and the Raul Castro regime now stands
at 25, to which must be added about 150 relatives.

So far a little more than half of the 52 remaining "Group of 75"
prisoners have been released and taken in by Spain, the Spanish foreign
ministry said on Thursday in a communique.

Another freed dissident, Juan Adolfo Fernandez, is expected to arrive in
Madrid on Friday.

The Group of 75 comprises government opponents rounded up and jailed in
the "Black Spring" crackdown of March 2003. Over the years, 22 of the 75
have been paroled on medical grounds, while Orlando Zapata died in jail.

The Castro government says all 52 remaining Group of 75 detainees will
be released by the end of October. EFE


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