HAVANA – Several Cuban former political prisoners who were released from prison on parole several years ago on Tuesday received notice from the island’s authorities that they have been given permission to travel abroad.
Felix Navarro, Hector Maseda and Marta Beatriz Roque told EFE that they are among the eight dissidents who on Monday were called to the Interior Ministry, where they were informed of the temporary authorization to travel outside of Cuba.
Also receiving the permission were Oscar Elias Biscet, Arnaldo Ramos, Librado Linares, Eduardo Diaz and Jorge Olivera, who – like their other colleagues – were released under a special ruling nullifying the sentences handed down during the repressive “Black Spring” crackdown in 2003 when 75 dissidents were jailed.
Navarro told EFE that in his case authorities told him that because of his “good behavior” since he left prison in 2011, they had granted him permission for a “one-time” trip abroad.
The former prisoner said that he will refuse the Cuban government’s gesture and attributes it to “a strategy” linked to U.S. President Barack Obama’s March 21-22 visit to the communist island.
“I will always continue to live in Cuba,” said Navarro.
Roque also said that she was informed of the “exceptional” authorization and her interpretation of the situation is that it is “a gift from Obama.”
“My perception is that they want us to stay (outside of Cuba) but I’ve been going along like this for 25 years and I’m not going to throw in the towel for a trip,” said Roque, the only woman in the Group of 75, who was released from prison in 2004 for health reasons.
Roque said that if she were to agree to travel it would be to visit relatives in Miami whom she has not seen since 1960, including her 82-year-old sister.
Maseda told EFE that the officials who met with him also told him that he is now authorized to travel outside the country “for a single time,” but “I don’t accept that.”