On Saturday, November 13, 2010, Cuban economist Arnaldo Ramos Lauzarique was released from prison, after serving more than 7 years and 7 months of his 18-year prison term. An official statement by the Catholic Church said that Mr. Ramos had been granted humanitarian parole. Upon his arrival at his home in central Havana, various media outlets quoted Mr. Ramos as saying:
They told me the release is unconditional. I did not accept anything else. I do not owe anything to anyone. I am staying and I will continue my political activity.
Mr. Ramos is the first Cuban dissident released from prison who has 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. The group had been in jail since 2003, when 75 dissidents were arrested in a widespread crackdown and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. This announcement followed a series of private conversations between President Raúl Castro and Cardinal Jaime Ortega of the Roman Catholic Church. Over the intervening months, 40 of the 52 men accepted immediate departure for 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 with members of their families. A dozen prisoners refused to agree to release from prison that was conditioned upon leaving the country or was granted as medical parole. Mr. Ramos was among this group.
The CHR and the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies undertook Mr. Ramos’ case following his arrest in 2003. More than 50 letters of appeal were sent to the Cuban authorities in Mr. Ramos’ behalf by CHR correspondents and national academies that are members of the H.R. Network.