US Officials: Cuba Has Freed All 53 Prisoners in Landmark Deal
EspañolCuba has released all the political prisoners it agreed to free, senior US officials told Reuters on Monday, January 12. The release of dissident activists jailed on the island is part of Havana’s commitment to improved relations with the United States.
The officials said the White House will provide the names of all 53 released prisoners to Congress and expects lawmakers to make them public.
The information, however, has still yet to be confirmed by dissident groups in Cuba. According to Elizardo Sánchez, head of the dissident Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, authorities on the island released 5 and 33 prisoners on January 7-8, respectively.
“We have heard nothing new today [Monday],” said Sánchez. “We’ll see in the following days if they complete the list.”
US officials also indicated they will continue to pressure Cuba to release more prisoners.
“The fact of the matter is there are other individuals whose cases we have raised in the past,” one of the officials said. “We have every expectation of going forward in the future. We’re going to be wanting to raise the cases of different individuals who may be detained in Cuba for exercising their universal rights.”
Cuba and the United States announced in December 2014 that they would normalize diplomatic relations after 53 years. As part of the negotiations, Castro released a US intelligence asset on the island in exchange for three Cubans convicted of espionage in the United States. Furthermore, Cuba released US aid worker Alan Gross in what was called a “goodwill gesture.”
During the talks, US negotiators presented a list of prisoners they wanted to see released, the officials said.
A delegation of high-ranking US officials, including US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, will fly to Havana on January 21 to kick off high level talks on topics ranging from investment to immigration.