HAVANA TIMES – The US government said Tuesday that Cuba released some of the 53 political prisoners to be released after the agreement reached between Washington and Havana in December, but declined to give figures, reported dpa.
“They have already released some of the prisoners,” said State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki at a press conference.
“As Raul Castro said in his speech on December 17, the government decided to release these individuals as part of the talks with the US. They pledged not only to America but to the Vatican,” recalled Psaki.
The State Department spokesman declined to specify the number or identity of released prisoners. However, she explained that the list was drawn up by the administration of Barack Obama.
Cuba, meanwhile, has not reported any release of prisoners under the rapprochement with the United States, after the releases of American Alan Gross and the Cuban born US spy announced on December 17.
Cuban dissidents said they were unaware of any release. The families of political prisoners on the island are not aware of relatives released, said the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation (CCDHRN).
“We’re doing two or three rounds of calls a day”, CCHRNC spokesman Elizardo Sanchez told dpa. To date “no release has been confirmed” said the dissident, whose monthly reports are cited by several international organizations.
Psaki was confident that the remaining political prisoners Castro pledged to release under the agreement with Washington will be out of jail “in the near future.”
Washington considers the release of political prisoners is “very important” and is “part of the discussion.” “It’s an ongoing process. We did not expect it to be from one day to the next. They committed to do so and we will continue to have a discussion about it,” said Psaki.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, was confident that the new Congress will support the policy change announced by the Obama administration toward Cuba.
Obama will face strong opposition in Congress, especially by Republican congressmen and senators of Cuban origin, who oppose any concession to the island. Starting today, Republicans have a majority in both houses, following legislative elections last November 4th.
Obama and Raul Castro announced last December 17 the starting of talks for normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries, which were broken off by the US in 1961. In addition, Havana freed American aid worker Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds and both countries announced an exchange of prisoners.