Sunday, March 6, 2011 marked four months passed since the November 6, 2010 deadline self-imposed by the dictatorship to free all the prisoners of conscience imprisoned during the Cuban Black Spring of 2003. There are dozens of others still imprisoned today but four prisoners of conscience from this group were supposed to have been freed 120 days ago and reunited with their families remain imprisoned as of today:
There are other promises that have not been kept. For example today the new special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez taking over Manfred Nowak announced in his report to the Human Rights Council that in November and December of 2010,"[H]e reiterated requests to Cuba, Iraq and Zimbabwe whose respective Governments had extended invitations to visit their countries, but dates have yet to be agreed."
An invitation had been made officially and was publicly extended to Mr. Manfred Nowak by the Cuban government on two occasions first by the Cuban Foreign Minister on January 28, 2009 and reaffirmed in February of 2009, as Cuba underwent its Universal Periodic Review by the Cuban justice minister, Maria Esther Reus, who presented the regime's country report stated that: "The promotion and protection of human rights are guaranteed" and in press accounts reconfirmed that Havana had promised to allow a visit by the United Nations' independent expert on torture, Manfred Nowak.
Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture on June 9, 2010 stated “I regret that in spite of its clear invitation, the Government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources.”
Sadly, there are new prisoners of conscience suffering what amounts to torture and whose lives hang in the balance. One of them is Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina arrested on December 9, 2010 and brutalized in front of one his children. He is currently hospitalized after prison officials denied him water during his water only hunger strike and nearly killed him. This is the same kind of tactic that claimed the life of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February 23, 2010.