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Case Information: José Luis García Paneque
Garcia Paneque
DATE OF BIRTH:July 24, 1965
PROFESSION:Medical Doctor
DATE OF ARREST:March 18, 2003

On Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Cuban surgeon and dissident José Luis García Paneque was released from prison and flown to Spain, together with six other Cuban prisoners of conscience and their families. He had been in prison since his arrest in March 2003 and had served more than 7 years of a 24-year prison sentence. Following private discussions between Cuban President Raúl Castro and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino and Archbishop Dionisio García Ibáñez, President Castro agreed to release 52 political prisoners who have been in jail since 2003, when 75 dissidents were arrested in a widespread crackdown and sentenced to imprisonment of between 6 and 28 years. Dr. García was on the first plane to Spain. The remaining 45 prisoners reportedly will be released over the next few months. The Spanish government, that helped negotiate the releases, has said that it is willing to receive all of the prisoners and their families following their release. Press accounts say that the United States and Chilean governments have also offered to take the prisoners. The Catholic Church has stated that the prisoners will not be forced to go to Spain. According to dissident leaders in Cuba, some of the prisoners reportedly want to live in Spain permanently, and some wish to travel to Spain for medical care and then return to Cuba. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who helped negotiate the deal between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church, said President Castro has pledged that those dissidents who go to Spain will be allowed to return to Cuba with special permits and will not lose their property, as is usually the case for Cubans who emigrate. 

The CHR, which undertook Dr. García’s case following his arrest in 2003, and member academies of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies have taken a variety of actions to gain his release from prison. More than 50 letters of appeal were sent to the Cuban authorities in Dr. García’s behalf by CHR correspondents and national academies that are members of the H.R. Network. Over the years the CHR has been in regular touch with Dr. García’s wife, Yamilé Llanes Labrada, to give her moral support and to enable it to obtain up-to-date information on his situation. The CHR was particularly concerned about Dr. García’s state of health, which deteriorated significantly during his confinement. Suffering from anxiety, depression, and deficient intestinal absorption syndrome, he lost more than 40% of his body weight and appeared, in press photos, extremely thin but happy upon landing in Spain. 


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