HAVANA TIMES — As in the previous visits of Pope John Paul II (in 1998) and Pope Benedict XVI (in 2012), Cuban authorities will release a large number of prisoners and individuals on parole on the occasion of Pope Francis’ tour of the island this coming September 19. This time around, 3,522 people will be officially freed in the course of the next 72 hours.
Below is the announcement made by Cuba’s official media:
Council of State to Pardon 3,522 Convicts
On the occasion of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit, in the same manner as during the visits of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has decided to pardon 3,522 convicts on the basis of the crimes for which they were sentenced, their behavior in prison, the time served and health-related issues.
Those pardoned include people over 60, young individuals under 20 without past criminal records, inmates with chronic conditions, women, several prisoners who had served the term established for a parole hearing in 2016 and some who are serving their time working outside the prison, as well as foreigners whose countries of origin can guarantee repatriation.
With few exceptions made on the basis of humanitarian considerations, no individuals charged with murder, manslaughter, rape, pederasty with the use of force, corruption of minors, theft and slaughter of cattle, drug trafficking, armed robbery or serious intimidation, or crimes against state security were not granted pardons.
This decision shall be made effective within 72 hours. In the case of foreigners, the Ministry of Foreign Relations shall arrange the measures required to expatriate those released with the accredited diplomatic representatives of their countries of origin.
The Ministry of the Interior will coordinate the actions required to incorporate those released from prison into society and offer medical assistance to those who require it with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Ministry Public Health and the pertinent provincial offices of the People’s Power Council.