Cuba Politics

President Bush calls for release of all Cuban political prisoners

Posted October 11, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

US President George W. Bush (L) embraces Yamila Llanes Labrada (R), whose husband, Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, is imprisoned in Cuba, during a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. Bush called for Cuba to release Paneque.(AFP/Saul Loeb)

President George W. Bush Wednesday called for the release of Jose Luis Garcia Paneque and all other political prisoners held in Cuba, after meeting the dissident reporter’s family at the White House.

“He did nothing more than advocate for freedom, and he is now in prison and not only is he in prison ... he is ill,” Bush said during a ceremony marking Latin American heritage.

“One of the messages I have for the Cuban leaders is: free this man and free other political prisoners. He is not a threat to you. Let him be reunited with the woman who loves him dearly and his four children,” Bush said.

At his White House meeting, Bush spoke with Garcia Paneque’s wife, Yamile Llanes Labrada, and her daughter Shirley.

After heading an independent news agency in Las Tunas, Cuba, Garcia Paneque was arrested in August 2003 and charged with collaborating with a foreign power, according to his wife. He is now serving a 24-year prison sentence.

Reporters Without Borders recently said the former plastic surgeon was seriously ill with gastric problems that took a turn for the worse after his imprisonment.

The White House said Garcia Paneque ran an independent library and took part in a grass-root campaign to press the Cuban government to show respect for human rights and open the country to democratic reforms.

Dissident sources in Cuba put the number of political prisoners in their country at around 250.

Member Comments

On October 11, 2007, publisher wrote:

This is a pretty big event I would think. Either it was off the cuff meaning it wasn’t scripted or planned or thought out or it was carefully planned (with Bush it’s hard to tell).

With the dissident’s wife standing right there with the President, I tend to think Bush at least gave some thought to the weight of his words.

Now, will Raul reply? Is this the start of a “dialog” with the Cuban government? Is there more to this story behind the scenes?

If Raul responds very publicly within the next couple days then I would be led to believe that some deal is being worked on in the background.

If FIDEL comes out and says that’s it’s all just a grand plan from the evil US to destablize blah blah blah, then it’s just another shitty day in the life of dissidents in Cuba.

If neither has any public comment then Bush just made the statement more for the press than as a direct “tear down this wall” kind of statement to Raul.

Let’s see what happens.

On October 11, 2007, publisher wrote:

I found this quote in another story

“And so one of the messages I have for the Cuban leader is, free this man, and free other political prisoners. He’s not a threat to you. Let him be reunited with a woman who loves him dearly, and his four children,” the president said.”

Why did he say Cuban leader? Is he not sure who is in charge? Why wouldn’t he put the order out to Fidel or Raul specifically?

On October 11, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

Because at this point I don’t think anyone knows who is in charge… not even the Cuban people.

On October 11, 2007, Cuban Dan wrote:

I like this article, and I hope that we do hear a response… hopefully a positive one.  However, knowing the Castro brothers I highly doubt it.

On October 12, 2007, manfredz wrote:

It would also be nice if Bush released America’s political prisoners .....
What, America doesn’t have any? ...well then neither does Cuba ...

On October 12, 2007, Curt wrote:

President Bush needs to look in his own backyard before requesting democracy from other countries. He can start with freeing those heros who were convicted for helping Cuban Americans to visit their loved ones in Cuba.