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Cuba grants pardons to 787 convicts after pope’s clemency call

Pope Francis and Cuban President Raul Castro exchange gifts after their meeting in Havana on Sept. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters, Alejandro Ernesto/Pool

HAVANA (Reuters) Cuba said on Monday (Nov. 14) it was granting pardons to 787 convicts in response to Pope Francis’ Holy Year call to all heads of state for acts of clemency.

Those released would include women, youths, the ill and “other categories,” according to the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Cuba, which denies it has political prisoners, said those convicted of murder, rape, child abuse and drug trafficking would be excluded from the pardon.

Pope Francis chose the theme of mercy for the Holy Year that Roman Catholics started celebrating last December. The period, officially proclaimed by the pontiff as the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, ends on Sunday.

Earlier this month, during a special Jubilee Mass for prisoners in Vatican City, he asked authorities worldwide to consider “the possibility of carrying out an act of clemency towards prisoners they think can benefit from such a provision.”

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  • They’re not releasing political prisoners. While in Cuba, Pope Francis never mentioned dissidents, refused to meet with any, nor spoke about human rights for anyone much less political prisoners..

  • Surprise-surprise! I agree with Betty below–I doubt that there were any dissidents among those being released!

    That number likely includes a large group from Cuba’s mental institutions as well. Recall a few years ago, when Cuba emptied out their jails and insane assylums and sent them all Northward, to the US? They knew all these people could take advantage of America’s generous amnesty program for Cuban “refugees!” With a weak, pro-Cuban patsy like Barak Obama still in office, the Castros missed their chance, if they didn’t already do it serriptitiously!

  • It’s going to release some prisoners at least.

    That’s an interesting crucifix in the photo. It looks like the cross member consists of brooms or canoe paddles. Weird.

  • It’s difficult to argue with an act of mercy whatever the motive. I’m no fan of the Castros’ but I would like to see normalization of diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba, perhaps an improved and dynamic economy would lead to greater political freedoms.

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