Washington, DC- The Cuba Study Group today released the following statement in reaction to the news confirming the relocation of political prisoners following conversations between members of the Catholic Church in Cuba and members of the Cuban government:

“The Cuba Study Group has consistently called for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Cuba. However, we are encouraged by news reports that appear to indicate that the Cuban government has begun to take constructive steps in relation to its political prisoners following talks held in the past couple of weeks with representatives of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

As an important part of Cuba’s civil society, the Catholic Church is uniquely positioned to play this important role.

We call on both sides to continue to work together to take steps that are in the best interest of the Cuban people and which could represent the beginning of much needed processes of national reconciliation and dialogue to solve Cuba’s many pressing problems.

At the same time, the Cuba Study Group encourages U.S. officials to be prepared to respond to positive developments in Cuba with substantive measures.”

On May 19th, Cardinal Jaime Ortega and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba Dionisio Garcia met with Cuban President Raul Castro to discuss the conditions of political prisoners on the Island. In a subsequent press conference, Church officials announced that as a result of conversations held with Cuban President Raul Castro, they expected the Cuban government to transfer political prisoners to prisons near their hometowns, transfer sick prisoners to hospitals and take steps towards their eventual release. Today, it appears the Cuban government has begun to take positive and concrete steps.

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