All 53 political prisoners released from Cuban jails

As part of an historic accord with the US, Cuba has released 53 political prisoners as promised. The move resulted from a December 17 announcement at both countries trying to normalize relations.

While some details about the releases were made by Marie Harf, US State Department spokeswoman, no names were mentioned.

Harf said that a small number of the 53 prisoners were released during the summer and fall, while additional prisoners were released prior to December 17.

“In the period since then … the Cuban government has released all 53 persons whose names were shared by the U.S. government,” Harf told reporters adding, “We know there are going to be human rights concerns we still have when it comes to Cuba, but we are very pleased that they followed through on this commitment.”

Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, was also pleased Cuba made good to the agreement stating, “Prisoner releases will be no more than a smokescreen if they are not accompanied by expanded space for the free and peaceful expression of all opinions and other freedoms in Cuba.

“The good will expressed by the Cuban authorities with this series of releases must absolutely translate into the implementation of a new human rights agenda. Respect for freedom of expression, assembly and association must be the next step if the Cuban authorities want to keep their credibility in the face of a world which is watching them,” she said.

In the past, both nations have released political prisoners as a show of goodwill including last month when American, Alan Gross, was released on humanitarian grounds. In a separate swap, the US agreed to release an intelligence source they held for 20 years in exchange for three jailed Cuban spies.