A friend of the late, jailed pro-democracy activist Yunior Garcia Aguilera has arrived in Spain.
Alberto Desguignois, director of the Foundation for Support of Cuban Writers and Artists (FESPACO), returned to Madrid on Thursday afternoon from Miami.
Desguignois, a Spanish citizen, began working on efforts to free his friend in 2015. He has also been a long-time opponent of the Cuba’s Communist government.
Garcia Aguilera, who was known as one of Cuba’s most vocal and outspoken opposition leaders, died in February at the age of 73. His cause of death was not disclosed.
According to reports, police had arrested Garcia Aguilera at the airport on his way from Key West, Fla., to Havana, Cuba, where he had been detained previously.
Garcia Aguilera had been under house arrest since his arrest on Nov. 18, 2016, when he was protesting against a plan to demolish a building in downtown Havana that houses a shelter for migrant children.
He suffered from an inoperable brain tumor that had been removed previously and died five days after authorities told him it had grown again.
“As a father of two boys I remain outraged over the terrible imprisonment of Yunior Garcia, who died without any form of recourse of due process,” Desguignois said in a tweet shortly after the news of his death broke.
“We refuse to be intimidated by threats and travel bans. An obligation of solidarity to the family of Mr. Garcia. The (FESPACO) leadership remain against the continuation of the unjust detention in Cuba,” he added.
Garcia Aguilera is also survived by his wife, and a daughter.
[email protected] arrived in Madrid!
@adesguignois returned today from Miami.
Garcia Aguilera is also the cause of the Spanish NGO FESPACO.
This is the only formal military(r) end of (Havana)’s stability.
Garcia Aguilera was an an anti-Castro civil rights activist, who had been behind bars for the last three years.
Garcia was released on bail in June 2017 pending his court trial. He pleaded not guilty and released as a political prisoner.
His travel ban and his house arrest were lifted at the end of 2017 after Spain and the United States said they were working to lift the restrictions.
Adame Rodriguez Castro, who had been negotiating with Spanish and U.S. officials on his release, told Univision that the last talks occurred during Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s visit to the United States this past March.
Rodriguez said that a deal was finalized as of a few weeks before Garcia’s death.
“The state prosecutor and justice minister came to us and told us that they had had this agreement with the Cuban government that they would free the political prisoner (Garcia) in return for our release from our prison,” Rodriguez told Univision.
Rodriguez said that Garcia’s release followed discussions that began in August 2017 during an official visit by Luis Perez, a junior minister at the Spanish foreign ministry. Perez had been in Cuba to help negotiate the release of Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zenani.
His body was flown to Spain on Feb. 19. It will lie in state in Havana before it is repatriated.