The Miami Herald's Cuban Colada blog reports on a Spanish newspaper report that suggests that "tens" of Cuban political prisoners will be released in coming weeks and allowed — or forced — to leave the island for Europe.
Any pronouncements from the Spanish government should be receive with a healthy dose of skepticism, but for the sake of the prisoners and their families, I hope the report is true.
I just worry that such a release will prove to be a public relations boon for a Castro regime that does not deserve it, as long it maintains laws and policies that allow for the prisoners now in the gulag to be replaced arbitrarily by other Cubans.
Here is the Cuban Cola report, complete with links to the original report:
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos will arrive Monday in Cuba "to complete with Castro's authorities the details of the release of several tens of political prisoners of the more than 200 in the country," the Spanish newspaper ABC reports.
Spain, France and Italy would welcome the freed prisoners, "knowledgeable sources" told ABC. Moratinos will remain in Cuba until Thursday.
According to the newspaper, "the Spanish government has long maintained contact with the Catholic Church to favor an improvement in human rights in Cuba."
Last June 10, Moratinos and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero met in Rome with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mambertí, the Vatican's foreign minister, who later traveled to Cuba and discussed the matter with Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana.
That day, Moratinos also met in Rome with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez to convince him of the advisability of releasing some of the prisoners, the newspaper says.
Rodríguez reportedly requested that the released inmates be removed from the island. A precedent for that action is the deportation of four prisoners to Spain in 2008.
"If the project goes through," ABC says, "in the next several weeks, Cuba could release an important number of political prisoners – there is talk of 60 or 70 – who would be sent to Spain, France and Italy."
For more, click here.
[UPDATE:] At a press briefing Monday morning, Moratinos said that he does not plan to visit Guillermo Fariñas, but that "we would like for him to stop his hunger strike, because I think that his objective of pointing out to the situation in Cuba is by now known by the entire international community. We shall do all that is possible for him to regain a normal life.
"Aside from that," he said, according to EFE, "I have other worthwhile objectives for my stay in Cuba that may give results and serve all the citizens of Cuba and, logically, to the interests of Spain and Cuba, medium- and long-range."
UPDATED, 5 p.m. EDT -- Cuban human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez reports that authorities have recently interviewed some 40 political prisoners, which he said is a possible precursor to their imminent release.