In a move that has angered lawmakers and activists in the United States, the Cuban government has rearrested two political prisoners from the list of 53 whose release had been negotiated by the U.S.
According to independent media sources in Cuba, Ronaldo Reyes Rabanal and Luís Enrique Labrador – along with other activists – were arrested while attending a meeting of the opposition group, Movement for a New Republic. Lazara María Borrego Guzmán, a member of the Ladies in White opposition movement, was also allegedly arrested during the meeting and Cuban officials allegedly broke her arm.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, confirmed to Fox News Latino the re-arrest of the political prisoners.
Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Reyes Rabanal was detained for several hours on Thursday and released in the afternoon. The dissident said that Cuban police drove him outside of Havana and left him along the road upon his release.
The New Jersey lawmaker added that Labrador is still in custody.
The U.S.-Cuba deal announced in December has drawn harsh criticism from lawmakers in the U.S. opposed to the cooling in diplomatic relations between the longtime foes.
"The President's flawed and arbitrary list of 53 political prisoners falls far short of a condition that should be non-negotiable: the permanent release of all political prisoners," Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida said in a press release. "When the Castro regime re-arrests political prisoners after the President ‘negotiated’ their release, it makes a mockery of the entire bad deal."
Along with the arrests of Reyes Rabanal and Labrador, another member on Obama’s list was rearrested late last year. Marecelino Abreu Bonora – who was originally released from prison in October, but was included on the list of 53 – was rearrested on December 26, beaten by Cuban officials and finally rereleased again on January 7 after being held in a punishment cell for almost two weeks.
Dissidents on the island – including those that were part of the list of 53 – have spoken out about the state of fear that they have been living in since their release from prison.
"They can arrest us again whenever they see fit," José Lino Ascensio López, a dissident who was part of the 53 dissidents recently released from prison, told Fox News Latino. "We knew that from the moment they let us go."
Last week, the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee released the names of the political prisoners but did not disclose their whereabouts after their release. The Cuban government said it released the prisoners as part of last month's historic deal between the United States and Cuba.
Most of the released dissidents belong to the Patriotic Union of Cuba, an anti-government group based in far eastern Cuba. The group’s spokesman told Fox News Latino that even though the political prisoners were sprung, the move is purely "cosmetic."
While the White House has not released statement about the rearrest on Monday, Obama's U.N. ambassador alluded to the recent release of the 53 dissidents but said more needs to be done.
"Welcome as that step is, and heartening as it is for their families," Samantha Powers said," (it) does not resolve the larger human rights problems on the island."
Includes reporting by Elizabeth Llorente.