Freed Cuban dissidents, angered over alleged lack of legal help, claim Spain misled them

By Jorge Sainz, AP
Monday, July 19, 2010

Cuban dissidents claim they were misled by Spain

MADRID — A group of Cuban political prisoners recently released to live in Spain complained Monday they felt let down by the Spanish government.

The 11 dissidents were released this month by Havana as part of the Castro regime’s commitment to free 52 imprisoned since 2003 under an agreement with the Spanish government and Catholic Church. Eight more are due to arrive in Madrid on Tuesday.

Julio Cesar Galvez, one of the initial group, said they are no longer receiving legal counseling from the authorities.

He said the group felt it was “misled” because Spain is not making good on its promise of help as they try to start new lives.

“We signed a series of undertakings in front of a Spanish Embassy employee in Havana,” Galvez told a news conference.

However, “we have already stopped receiving legal advice,” Galvez said, adding he was speaking on behalf of the group.

The Spanish government had no immediate reaction to the group’s complaints. However, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Sunday the dissidents must be patient with the slowness of local bureaucracy.

Moratinos said the freed dissidents would be issued with Spanish work and residency permits within three to four months.

The dissidents and their families, numbering about 70, are staying at a hotel in the Madrid suburbs.

Galvez said the release of some dissidents did not indicate an easing of political restraints in Cuba.

“Our departure (from Cuba) should not be seen as a gesture of goodwill but rather as a desperate measure by a regime urgently seeking to gain any kind of credit,” he said.

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