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Cuban Medical Doctor Oscar Biscet Granted Humanitarian Parole
March 16, 2011
On March 10, 2011, the office of Cuba’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega announced by email that Oscar Biscet
, a Cuban medical doctor and prominent dissident, had been granted humanitarian parole and would be released from prison, after serving more than 8 years and 3 months of his 25-year prison term. The following day, three state security officials reportedly escorted him from “Combinado del Este” Prison, where he was being held, to his home in Havana. Upon his arrival there, in a telephone interview with Agence France Presse, he said,
I am fine, very happy to be reunited with the family. …It goes without saying that I will continue in the opposition because even in jail I did not give up my questioning attitude toward this government and the abuses it commits.
Dr. Biscet is one of a handful of Cuban dissidents released from prison who have been permitted to remain on the island since it was announced in early July 2010 that over the course of the next four months the Cuban government would release 52 political prisoners, including Dr. Biscet, who had been arrested in a widespread government crackdown and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. This announcement followed a series of private conversations between President Raúl Castro and Cardinal Ortega. Over the intervening months, 40 of the 52 men accepted immediate departure to Spain as a condition of their release from prison. Four medical doctors whose cases were undertaken by the CHR—Marcelo Cano Rodríguez
, José Luis Garcia Paneque
, Luis Milán Fernández
, and Ricardo Silva Gual
—went into exile in Spain with members of their families. Dr. Biscet, engineer Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez
, and economist Arnaldo Ramos Lauzarique
were among a group of a dozen prisoners who refused to agree to release from prison that was conditioned upon leaving the country.
The CHR undertook Dr. Biscet’s case in 1999, when he was arrested, tried, and convicted for the first time and sentenced to a three-year prison term, which he served in full. Since Dr. Biscet was arrested for a second time on December 6, 2002, the CHR and the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies have taken a number of private actions to obtain his release from prison. Over the years, the CHR has been in regular touch with Dr. Biscet’s wife, Elsa Morejón Hernández, to give her moral support and to obtain up-to-date information on his situation. We thank the many CHR correspondents and H.R. Network participants who responded to our alerts by writing more than 125 letters to the Cuban authorities and to Cardinal Ortega in Dr. Biscet’s behalf.