Those Who Don’t Want to Leave Will be the Last to Get Out / Iván García

Photo: Pedro Argüelles Morán, the first political prisoner who declared he would not leave Cuba.

Perhaps as a punishment for their decision not to leave Cuba, the prisoners of conscience from the Black Spring of 2003 who have chosen to remain in their country will be the last batch to come out of prison.

This was announced by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla in an exchange with the New York media. I don’t know if it is a concerted strategy by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, General Raul Castro and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, as had been expected that the “plantados” — those who refuse to emigrate — will be the last to be released.

There is also a serious drawback. Rumors are that the political prisoners will be released on “extra-penal license,” an ambiguous legal term, which has already been applied to dissidents from the Group of 75 such as Martha Beatriz Roque, Jorge Olivera, and Oscar Espinosa Chepe, among others.

Said “license” is an open invitation to the government. And under certain circumstances, they could be returned to prison. It’s a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of released opponents and independent journalists who remain in Cuba.

I would like to know if the plans of the triumvirate of actors in who negotiated the prison releases of 52 dissidents, anticipated that these “extra-penal licenses” would be kept in place against the opponents who don’t want to go into exile.

It was a masterful psychological move by the regime. It is not easy for a group of men who have spent more than 7 years behind the bars of a cell, to say no to a friendly phone call from Cardinal Ortega, suggesting they can go to Spain voluntarily in a matter of hours, if they wish.

Among those refusing to leave are Pedro Argüelles Morán, Oscar Elias Biscet, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, Guido Sigler Amaya, Angel Moya Acosta, José Daniel Ferrer García, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Librado Linares García, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Félix Navarro Rodríguez, Iván Hernández Carrillo and Diosdado González Marrero.

Among the group of those released and exiled to date (of which two are in Chile and the United States), some wanted to stay at home and then changed their position. Perhaps pressure from their families or because of fear that the government, at any time, could change its mind and not allow any more exits to Spain.

Everyone already knows how the regime works. They are unpredictable. The mood of the brothers from Birán varies in accord with certain regional and global events. And the majority of imprisoned opponents know that.

None of those who have left have done so with pleasure. They had wanted to remain in their provinces to continue working peacefully and writing their points of view about the reality within the island.

Almost three months have passed since the government statement, where they agreed to release the 52 prisoners of the Black Spring over the course of four months and it’s clear that their strategy was to try to have the least number of dissidents remaining in the country.

They are uncomfortable people. The fewer of them remaining in Cuba, the better for the Castros.

October 1, 2010