"We're pleased that Biscet was released, but we wish it would have happened
sooner," said José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Americas
Division of Human Rights Watch. "The Cuban authorities had no legitimate
reason to incarcerate someone for three years because he took part in a
peaceful protest. In addition to Biscet, they should release all of the
independent journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents
who remain incarcerated in violation of their fundamental rights."
Biscet, a 41-year-old doctor, received a three-year prison sentence in
February 2000 for protests that included turning the Cuban flag upside-down
and carrying anti-abortion placards. The president of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation, an independent organization, Biscet was convicted of
dishonoring patriotic symbols, public disorder, and instigating delinquency.
In detention since November 1999, Biscet was reportedly mistreated by prison
authorities and kept in poor conditions, causing weight loss and dental
problems. At one point during his incarceration, Biscet was reportedly made
to share a cell with a mentally disordered inmate.
Cuba continues to detain other prisoners on politically-motivated charges,
including blind human rights activist Juan Carlos González Leyva and
dissident Leonardo Bruzón Avila.
In July, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
(Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional), a respected
Havana-based nongovernmental group, released a partial list of political
prisoners that included 230 cases they considered to be reliably documented.