Cuba Needs Real Liberalization

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Says the first (and thus far, only) political prisoner released within Cuba.

According to EFE:

Cuba will continue in a "situation of stagnation" unless there is a "serious, honest liberalization," freed political prisoner Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique said.

A day after his release, Ramos Lauzurique, a member of the "Group of 75" dissidents jailed in March 2003, went Sunday to Havana's Santa Rita Church to meet with the Ladies in White, which comprises relatives of the Group of 75.

In a statement to the foreign media, the 68-year-old economist said that his release was "without conditions" and that he proposes to continue with the same activities he was doing before being jailed.

All of the other political prisoners released by the Cuban government since July were freed only after agreeing to accept what they hope will be temporary exile in Spain.

Ramos Lauzurique is one of the 13 of the 52 remaining Group of 75 prisoners who have spurned exile as a condition for getting out of jail.

Asked if he has noticed any changes in Cuban government policies, he said that up to now he sees "nothing serious."

"Up to now there has not been a serious, honest liberalization – I don't think anything is being done to change the current situation of stagnation," he said.

In his opinion, with the economic measures undertaken by the Cuban regime, such as massive layoffs in the government sector and an increase in self-employment, the country will simply go from "stagnation to chaos."

"Without real economic liberalization – though there should also be political freedom – I don't believe the government can solve its current problems," he said.

With the freeing of Ramos, 12 members of the Group of 75 are still behind bars, one of whom, Luis Enrique Ferrer, will soon be released but will go to Spain.

The other 11 refuse exile.

The Raul Castro government promised in July to gradually free all prisoners in the Group of 75 as part of an unprecedented dialogue with the Catholic Church that had the support of Spain.

While that group has not been entirely freed, other prisoners have been released on condition that they go to Spain, a condition that has been accepted since July by 47 Cubans and their families.