Prisoners of conscience freed in Cuba
Three of the released activists freed by Cuba had been recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, including the twins Bianco Vargas Martín and Diango Vargas Martín, who had been imprisoned for “public disorder” offences.
In the days following the initial releases, the Cuban authorities reportedly released dozens of other political prisoners. In total, it is believed 53 were released as relations thawed between Cuba and the USA.
Government repression in Cuba has long stifled freedom of expression and led to hundreds of arrests and detention. Journalists and political activists faced harassment and intimidation by security officials.
In the cases of Bianco Vargas Martín and Diango Vargas Martín, Amnesty believes the brothers were detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. They were arrested for protesting the detention of their brother Alexeis on November 27, 2012.
On that day, Alexeis had returned to his house where a government-approved demonstration was underway at the time. The house was surrounded by government supporters because his mother, Miraida Martín Calderín, was meeting there with members of the Ladies in White protest group. Alexeis was refused entry to his own home and was arrested by police
How did Amnesty supporters make a difference?
Amnesty International has continually issued worldwide appeals on behalf of activists detained in Cuba for expressing their right to freedom of expression.
In the cases of Bianco Vargas Martín and Diango Vargas Martín, Amnesty supporters called on the authorities to release the brothers immediately and unconditionally.
(Photograph shows dissident Angel Figueredo and his wife, Haydee Gallardo, a member of the Ladies in White protest group, who were among dozens of activists freed in Cuba in January.)