Outraged Cubans in Madrid

June 22, 2012 | Print Print |

Fernando Ravsberg

They have camped out for over two months seeking redress from the Rajoy government. Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES — Some 20 former Cuban political prisoners have camped outside of Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over two months. They are demanding a five-year extension of financial assistance, recognition of their university degrees and free health care coverage – including payments for dental treatment.

They began arriving in 2010 as a result of negotiations between the Spanish government, the Catholic Church and Cuban authorities, which freed all of its prisoners of conscience. Ninety percent of them accepted offers to immigrate to Spain, while a dozen of them decided to stay on the island, where they continue to engage in opposition politics. In total, 115 ex-prisoners and 500 of their relatives traveled to Spain.

The agreement was “evil”

Douglas Falsas, one of the campers, asserted to us that the agreement was “evil.” According to him: “Everything was a hoax and thievery; they had proposed to give us assistance for five years. However, after only one year they cut us off, leaving us utterly helpless.” He added, “Health care assistance was eliminated and the vast majority of us were never covered for our dental or eye-care needs.”

Another one of the problems faced by the Cuban ex-prisoners is the recognition of their university degrees. Dr. Ismel Iglesias has been unable to be accepted as a doctor though he says that he only lacks his transcripts, which the authorities in Havana are refusing to release. “That’s why I’m not being allowed to perform my specialty,” he told us.

Iglesias said: “I’ve taken and passed courses in first aid, as a Red Cross rescue worker in mountain rescue…I’ve put in 200 hours as a volunteer, but no one will hire me to work. They haven’t even let me take a course in nursing.” He added, “We will remain here (camped out) until the agreement with the Spanish government made in Cuba is fulfilled…including the recognition of our degrees.”

Raisa Albizar, the wife of one the released men, said it was impossible for her to get work in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, and when the government cut off their aid they couldn’t pay their rent any longer. “The European Union allocated 16 million euros, but they only gave us 183 euros a month per person in addition to rent,” she said.

Former political prisoner Luis Campos accuses Cuban president Raul Castro, Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega and former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos of being behind “this well-orchestrated farce.” Nevertheless, he says that he trusts “the US government will consider our case and grant us visas or it will try to mediate with the Spanish government to find a solution.”

Campos says “asking the current Partido Popular government in Spain for jobs when there are five million unemployed people here would be too much, but it can extend our assistance or find ways to send to us to another country like the United States.”

In the meantime, they are planning demonstrations in front of the Foreign Ministry, the Vatican embassy and the Cuban embassy.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    Pobrecitos! After a lifetime nursing at the teet of Castro, the reality of what it takes to really survive in life is too much for these guys.Going to the US will be worse for them. We hate freeloaders more than the Spanish do. I simply do not believe that there is not a job at a McDonald’s or Burger King that is going unfilled. I would do whatever it took to earn a living. I just can’t feel sorry for these guys. What were they doing for an entire year while they were collected free money? Did they really think Spain was going to support them for five years? For goodness sakes!

    • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

      I can’t disagree with you on this one, Moses. Under “real” socialism–in any country–involuntary unemployment would not exist, and every able-bodied adult would have both the opportunity and the responsibility of supporting themselves. Real socialism has never been about a free ride for the indolent.

    • Moses

      Hey Moses stop being a hater and racist ,Cuban people are well prepared individuals and more succesfull than white Americans in the USA , be off the Cubans issues if you don’t know nothing about Cubans

      • Moses

        Did you mean to say “if I don’t know ANYTHING about Cubans”. (That nasty double negative issue again) I am certainly not a racist (hint: take a look at my avatar) and I am not sure how the “hater” label would apply in this situation. It is a term appropriated from my racial community used to imply envy and I could hardly be accused of feeling envy for these Cubans. As far as these Cubans being well-prepared, well as they say…’da proof is in da pudin’.

  • nobody0

    Dry foot Cubans get also assistence in the USA for one year, even if they have work. Fact is that those people simple got their mouths feed by 2 states, Cuba and US (-Aid) and never had to work. Now they are Spains problem. Whole Cuba is laughing about the paid dissidents now.

  • Maria Benjumea

    Douglas “Falsas” writes the author, for Douglas faxas. What a good nickname for this man.
    Ismely iglesias claims to be a doctor but recognizes he never was a prisoners. he publicizes himself as “Fariñas’ doctor” while he was still a medical students., during his last hunger strike, in 2010. he arrived in Spain on April 2011 as “family” of another prisoner, Yoel Rodriguez. ¿Does castro alows doctors now to leave the country legally just graduated? It’s imposible to validate a doctor’s degree if the documents are not complete, as it’s this case.
    They were never promised 5 years financial aid, and in any case i f they say so, they sold themselves for a plato de lentejas. Medical care is universal in Spain, and sight and teeth care is provided if necessary to every legal inmigrant , as I personally now from other Cuban refugees.
    They gathered in Madrid from other provinces because they hope to get 500€ a month that Comunidad de Madrid is giving to the Cuban who settled there a year ago… The lady from Mallorca came to Madrid at the beginning of June, when the high season starts in the Balearic Islands and she could have got a job in the tourism business..
    Etc, etc..

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.

  • Steve_YYZ

    Why are we not surprised. Typical mal-contented Cubans that demand everything and work for nothing. It’s easier to whine and protest than to get off their butts and WORK for a living. Instead of being happy they finally got the freedom they always cried about, they treat their “new” government with contempt and refuse to work and want everything handed to them. Ungrateful idiots.

  • Hans Saurenmann

    should I say something?