When Will Cuba's Remaining Political Prisoners be Released?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Today, a senior U.S. official announced that all 53 Cuban political prisoners, who were part of the December 17th Obama-Castro deal, have been released.

Also, after intense scrutiny from Congress and the media, the Obama Administration finally "leaked" a list of the 53 political prisoners.

Why didn't it release the list on December 17th?

Here are a few clues:

The list includes over a dozen prisoners who were released prior to the December 17th announcement, such as Sonia Garro, Ramon Alejandro Munoz, Eugenio Hernandez Hernandez, Juliet Muechelena Diaz Vladimir Morera Bacallao, Alcibiades Guerra Marin, Eider Frometa Allen, Madeline Lazara Caraballo Betancourt, Jorge Cervantes GarcĂ­a, Juan Carlos Vasquez Osoria and Niorvis Rivera Guerra.

The Administration insists that they were also part of the Obama-Castro deal. Of course, since they kept the list secret all this time, we'll never know. So much for accountability and transparency.

One of the prisoners on the list, who was also released prior to December 17th, Marcelino Abreu Bonora, had been out of prison since October 24th. He was then re-arrested on December 26th (after the Obama-Castro deal), brutally beaten (click here to see evidence) and kept in a punishment cell for nearly two weeks before being re-released on January 7th.

Abreu Bonora's case proves how fungible and fickle this deal is.

What's clear is that the Obama Administration didn't want to travel to Havana next week for further talks, while questions lingered about the unknown fate of these 53 prisoners.

Thus, after sitting on their hands for four weeks, they ratcheted the pressure on the Castro regime.  Imagine that, pressure works.

Or they simply got creative with the list.

(Additionally, most of the political prisoners were released on the "condition" they don't renew their democracy activism -- or face re-arrest -- while many were at the tail-end of their sentences.)

But as we celebrate the release of these 53 Cuban political prisoners, questions remain about the fate of nearly 50 other known, long-term political prisoners who remain imprisoned.

Not to mention the 8,900 political arrests that took place throughout 2014 -- any of which could easily become a long-term imprisonment. (Part of Castro's revolving-door in using political prisoners to coerce foreign concessions.)

Why did the Obama Administration only settle for the release of 53?

After all, Castro released 3,600 political prisoners to President Jimmy Carter in 1978 and nearly 100 were released pursuant to international pressure following the murder of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2010.

Plus now that Obama has negotiated away all of his executive powers for the release of these 53 political prisoners (also proving that leverage works) -- what leverage does he have left for the remaining others?

What will be their fate?  

They include Yosvany Melchor, imprisoned since 2010 for his mother's activism in Oswaldo Paya's Christian Liberation Movement (MCL); labor leader Ulises Gonzalez Moreno; and famed author and critic, Angel Santiesteban-Prats.

Or famed Cuban artist, Danilo Maldonado ("El Sexto"), who was imprisoned after the December 17th announcement (on Christmas Day) and awaits sentencing.

Or what about (date of imprisonment)?

Harold Alcala Aramburo (2003)
Claro Fernando Alonso Hernandez (1996)
Miguel Alvarez (2012)
Lewis Arce Romero (2003)
Mercedes Arce (2012)
Ariel Arzuaga Pena (2011)
Lazaro Avila Sierra (2003)
Ernesto Borges Perez (1998)
Juana Castillo Acosta (2012)
Maikel Delgado Aramburo (2003)
Jose Angel Diaz Ortiz (2003)
Darian Ernesto Dufuss Preval (May 2014)
Carlos Manuel Figueroa Alvarez (October 2014)
Angel Frometa Robaina (2012)
Jacqueline Garcia Jaens (October 2014)
Alexander Gonzalez Estrada (2003)
Alexis Guerrero Cruz (April 2014)
Ramon Henry Grillo (2003)
Jose Herman Aguilera (1993)
Mario Hernandez Leyva (May 2014)
Ricardo Hernandez Ruiz (2011)
Hector Hierrezuelo Marquez (March 2014)
Wilmer Ledea Perez (2003)
Rider Lescay Veloz (2007)
Santiago Montes de Oca (October 2014)
Ricardo Pelier Frometa (May 2014)
Jorge Perez Puentes (2003)
Francisco Reyes Rodriguez (2003)
Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta (2012)
Osvaldo Rodriguez Castillo (2012)
Yoelkis Rosabal Florez (May 2014)
Ruben Sintes Rodriguez (2009)
Yoanny Thomas Gonzalez (2003)
Juan Antonio Torres Fernandez (2011)
Hector Velazquez Gomez (2013)
Ruvisnel Villavicencio (October 2014)