MIAMI – Jorge Luis García Pérez, a Cuban dissident known as "Antúnez," who was allegedly beaten and detained by Cuban authorities shortly after testifying at a U.S. Senate hearing via video conference, has been released from custody, according to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations, told Fox News that "Antúnez" was recovering from his imprisonment.
"The last update that we had is that he's been released from prison but he is obviously not doing well," said the Florida lawmaker, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in the 1950s. "He's had a tough 48 hours or 72 hours and there are now new reports that other dissidents and other people who testified last week are now facing similar repression."
García Pérez spoke in a Wednesday afternoon conference call with Rubio and with the U.S. Senate's only other Cuban-American, Democrat Bob Menéndez of New Jersey, shortly after his release from jail.
The last update that we had is that he's been released from prison but he is obviously not doing well
- Marco Rubio
Menéndez described García Pérez as being "brutally beaten" during his most recent incarceration by Cuban authorities.
The pro-democracy activist has been imprisoned before by the Castro regime.
"He was released but with charges -- trumped up charges -- which is an attempt to try and imprison him again. Since he spent 17 years in prison, simply for seeking peaceful diplomacy, peaceful movements towards democracy," Menéndez told reporters in Washington, D.C. after their conversation ended.
During the press conference, Rubio also said García Pérez said that the Cuban police informed him that he was jailed specifically because of testimony before the U.S. Congress.
"He made it clear that one of the first things they mentioned when they brought him in, one of the first thing out of their mouths when he went to jail was 'We heard what you said last week to the U.S. Senate committee,'" Rubio said.
"He has no doubt whatsoever that the beatings and the treatments he received were directly linked to the fact that he appeared last week in our hearing," Rubio added.
Rubio also said that race could have played a role in the Cuban government's treatment of García Perez.
"The Castro regime will not tolerate black Cubans, Afro-Cubans speaking out against the revolution," García-Pérez, who is of Afro-Cuban descent, told Rubio and Menéndez. "It is a very interesting perspective that we don’t hear enough about."