President Barack Obama called on Cuba’s communist regime to release all political prisoners and he praised five dissidents recognized this week by the National Endowment for Democracy. Cuba has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere and consistently suppresses independent political activity.
Obama said he hoped that the three incarcerated award recipients – Librado Linares Garcia, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, and Ivan Hernandez Carrillo – would “be unconditionally released and allowed to fully participate in a democratic future in Cuba.”
Another activist recognized by the NED, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as “Antunez,” said he supports Obama, but criticized his administration’s Cuba policies. The US has eased restrictions on travel and cash transfers to the island and expressed a willingness to engage with the communist authorities.
“These types of gestures toward a dictatorship, without insisting on any reciprocity, seem to me a bit of a sterile approach,” said Antunez. His wife, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, founder of Cuba’s Rosa Parks Women’s Movement, also received the NED award.