Cuba has completed the release of 53 political prisoners that was part of last month's historic deal between the United States and Cuba, the U.S. said Monday
The prisoners had been on a list of opposition figures whose release was sought as part of the U.S. agreement last month with the Cuban government. They had been cited by various human rights organizations as being imprisoned by the Cuban government for exercising internationally protected freedoms or for their promotion of political and social reforms in Cuba.
The U.S. has verified the release, according to an official traveling with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Islamabad. The official spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the issue on the record.
Among those released were Haydee Gallardo S., a Lady in White, and her husband Angel Figueredo C. who were both arrested in May 2014 on charges of "public disorder."
The independent rap artist Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, known as "El Crítico," was also released. 'El Critico" was sentenced to eight years in prison without a trial in March 2013 for "resistance" against the communist regime.
Last month, Cuba and the U.S. agreed to work to restore normal diplomatic relations as part of a deal in which Cuba freed an imprisoned U.S. aid worker, Alan Gross, along with an imprisoned spy working for the U.S. and the imprisoned dissidents. The U.S. released several Cuba intelligence agents. The deal came after 50 years of hostility between the two countries.
There had been much concern in the Cuban-American immigrant community and among aid workers, as well as from top U.S. conservatives like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, who is also a Cuban-American, about the lack of transparency and the secrecy surrounding the identities of the political prisoners.
The leader of the Miami-based the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC), Francisco Hernandez, was highly vocal about the issue.
"We would like to know the names, because obviously these people are going to need help when they are released, and we want to make sure that they are released," Hernandez told Fox News Latino.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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