The newly liberated Cuban activists who arrived in Spain earlier this week are grateful for their newfound freedom, yet fear for their future legal status.
They are part of a group 52, mainly journalists, who were arrested in a government crackdown in 2003.
Spain says the former prisoners will be granted a residence permit which will allow them to travel freely.
Julio César Galvez is one of those freed:
“The Cuban government has been clear, if at some point we want to go back to our homeland, where we were born, we need to ask for a permit. Hence we are not free. We are not migrants, we are refugees. Thank you to Spain for sheltering us.”
Those freed called on the government to release all dissidents held in Cuban jails where conditions are described as “very poor.”
Ricardo González Alfonso said:
“Why don’t they release those prisoners who are still in Cuba if all they have to do is unlock the doors.”
Despite the historic move the free those held, the Cuban government maintains that none are prisoners of conscience. It insists they are mercenaries paid by Washington and supported by anti-Castro exiles in Miami.
The US Embassy in Madrid says anyone in Spain is welcome to apply for a visa to visit America, but those freed said they were given the choice of Spain or jail.
For more on this see our Euronews interview with freed Cuban Journalist Pablo Pacheko.