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    Freedom House

    April 27, 2007 — While the release of seven Cuban political prisoners
    this week is a welcome action, more needs to be done to demonstrate a
    genuine shift in the Cuban government's treatment of political dissent,
    Freedom House said today. The organization urged the international
    community to continue to pressure the Cuban government to release all
    political prisoners in detention.

    "While Freedom House views the early release of any prisoners as a
    positive development, history has indicated that there is little reason
    to believe that this action will herald greater tolerance of dissent or
    the passage of meaningful reforms in Cuba," said Jennifer Windsor,
    Executive Director of Freedom House. "Those governments and
    nongovernmental organizations that claim to support human rights must
    remain vigilant in urging the Cuban government to release all political

    Rather than representing a change in the Cuban government's posture
    towards the dissident movement, past incidences of early releases of
    individual political prisoners have consistently proven them to be
    isolated events. Additionally, the prisoners who were recently released
    had already served most–and in some cases all–of their sentences.

    The actions of the Cuban government are belied by the fact that a human
    rights advocate and a journalist were recently arrested, summarily
    tried, and imprisoned for political crimes, including "disclosing state
    security secrets" and alleged "social dangerousness." Dissident lawyer
    Rolando Jiménez Posada and independent journalist Oscar Sanchez received
    respective sentences of twelve and four years in jail.

    "The arrest and sentencing of Mr. Posada and Mr. Sanchez, legitimate
    civil society actors who have been struggling to expand freedom in Cuba,
    sends a sign that the government intends to continue its repression of
    political dissent in Cuba," said Jennifer Windsor. "Those countries that
    are in dialogue with the Cuban government must insist that the treatment
    of political prisoners be on the agenda during any discussions."

    The Cuban government did not provide a formal explanation for the
    releases, but observers have attributed the action to a diplomatic
    rapprochement with Spain. The releases come at a time when the Spanish
    government is facing criticism over a recent visit to Cuba by Spanish
    Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, which did not include a meeting
    with political dissidents nor a discussion of Cuba's political prisoners.

    According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
    Reconciliation, there still are an estimated 270 to 280 political
    prisoners in detention on politically motivated charges, and countless
    democracy and human rights advocates who are routinely subjected to
    indiscriminate interrogations and detention by the Cuban government.

    Cuba is consistently ranked as Not Free in Freedom House's annual
    survey, Freedom in the World, and is considered to be among the "worst
    of the worst" in terms of the level of civil and political freedoms
    enjoyed by the population.

    Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports
    the expansion of freedom around the world, has been monitoring political
    rights and civil liberties in Cuba since 1972.

    Contact: Amanda Abrams, 202-747-7035

    For more information on Cuba, visit:

    Freedom in the World 2007: Cuba
    Freedom of the Press 2006: Cuba


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