Cuban activist acquitted in Spain after four years in prison

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Aguilera (circled) arrived in Madrid on Sunday night A Cuban activist who fled to Spain after being sentenced to 80 years in prison arrived in Madrid on Sunday…

Cuban activist acquitted in Spain after four years in prison

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Aguilera (circled) arrived in Madrid on Sunday night

A Cuban activist who fled to Spain after being sentenced to 80 years in prison arrived in Madrid on Sunday evening after being acquitted of using a fake passport to enter the US.

Yunior Garcia Aguilera, 26, entered Spain in 2015 using a passport that was his grandmother’s.

Spain has taken a leading role in pushing for political and human rights reform in Cuba.

He has been the target of a US lobbying campaign.

But Mr Garcia Aguilera was charged and found guilty by a Cuban court of using a fake passport.

After leaving Cuba, he was helped to travel by the Spanish embassy in Rondonia, eastern Cuba, and on Wednesday his conviction was overturned by an appeals court in the city of Cienfuegos.

He has been living in Spain for more than three years since his release from prison in early 2016.

Mr Garcia Aguilera was one of more than 50 Cubans pardoned by Cuba’s new government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel last year, as part of moves to ease the political isolation of the communist country.

Since Mr Castro took power in 1959, Cuba has not had any opposition political parties, nor free speech.

“It is amazing, it brings tears to my eyes and it feels normal,” Mr Garcia Aguilera told Spanish news agency AFP after leaving Cuba.

He said he would speak to his family and friends and reconsider his political goals.

A first hearing has been set for 26 December, at the Cienfuegos appeals court, where he is likely to go on trial again.

Before his arrest, Mr Garcia Aguilera had worked as a blogger in Cuba.

Image copyright Julio Fernandez Crespo Image caption Mr Garcia Aguilera had been targeted by an intense lobbying campaign in Spain

He has helped organise the weekly March for Human Rights in Spain and found refuge in its capital, Madrid.

He is often among hundreds of thousands of protesters who take to the streets across the country every Saturday to call for political and economic freedoms in Cuba.

The BBC’s Fidel Martinez in Havana says Mr Garcia Aguilera had expressed an interest in politics and was known for his work within the trade union movement.

Some of his emails were published in Cuban newspapers, detailing his view of how capitalism was damaging the country’s health system.

His case is one of three high-profile Cuban cases that have been followed closely by Spain’s government.

Last year, the Spanish ambassador was found dead in his hotel room in Havana.

Hailing the court’s decision, Madrid’s deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo tweeted that “all those years spent in prison will not be unjustified”.

The Spanish government says it is not planning to send him to the US.

However, last week Ms Calvo told reporters that he “absolutely deserves a political asylum as a citizen of the EU” .

She added that her government would do everything possible to ensure Mr Garcia Aguilera “reaches his own objectives”.

Leave a Comment