Spain was a key player in the 2010 deal that lead to the release of dozens of Cuban political prisoners, including those, like Dr. Marcelo Cano Rodriguez, who were imprisoned during "the black spring" of 2003.
Two years later, Spain, because of its disinterest and because of its economic disintegration, has turned its back on those former Cuban prisoners still in exile in their country. Many are destitute, some are homeless and one has committed suicide.
In response to his own predicament, Dr. Cano has started a hunger strike.
Marcelo Cano never chose to leave Cuba. The doctor and human rights activist was jailed during the infamous Black Spring crackdown, and when he was released after five years, he was forced into exile in Spain.
Now, two years later, he is on hunger strike, claiming welfare benefits have dried up and the government will not recognize his medical degree.
“I don’t even have money to take the bus,” the doctor says.
He is one of a group of Cubans granted asylum in Spain. But for many of them, the problems of political persecution in their homeland have been exchanged for the economic woes of a capitalist country at the very heart of the financial crisis gripping Europe.
Reports say the culture shock and hardships have led to tears, street brawls and imprisonment, and even a suicide. Some of the exiles are living on the streets of Madrid, destitute and homeless.
Cuban exiles were sent to Spain as part of a deal brokered between Jaime Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana, and Spain’s former prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Many were among the last prisoners released from the Group of 75 — Cubans arrested in 2003 in a crackdown known as Black Spring,when journalists and human rights activists were jailed for allegedly working for the U.S. Dr. Cano spent five years in prison, accused of being belonging to an illegal human rights group, when a deal was brokered, offering him and his family asylum in Spain. Family pressure forced his decision and in August 2010 he was thrust into the midst of the Spanish economic crisis.
Benefits offered by the government have dried up and Dr. Cano was left renting an apartment he couldn’t afford. Now, four months later, he owes his landlord €2,480 ($1,253) and has no way of paying.
“I’m not on the street, but I’m cheating the owner of the house,” he says.
Read the rest here.