Swoboda: ‚Hopefully the Cuban Sakharov winners can now pick up their prizes – mutual freedom to travel should be established‘

The President of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, today welcomed the announcement from the Cuban authorities that they will ease visa restrictions for Cubans travelling outside the island. He also expressed the hope that the Sakharov prizewinners will now be able to pick up their awards in Strasbourg.

Mr Swoboda said:

„The removal of the requirement for an exit visa from January 2013 is very good news for Cubans, who have long demanded more individual freedoms.

„We hope that this step will lead to further freedom and civil rights for all Cubans.

„It would be a very positive sign to Europe and to the world if the Cubans who were awarded the Sakharov Prize in the past were now allowed to travel to Europe and receive their awards and the recognition of the European Parliament.

„This would be a good step towards normalising relations between the EU and Cuba – and also the United States. We would also like to see travel opened up between Cuba, the EU and the United States, and we would like Cuba to allow their people to travel freely. At the same time it would be good if the US would accept normal and regular visits to the so-called ‚Cuban Five‘ who are imprisoned in the US.“

Note to the editors:
Cuban winners of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are the recently deceased Oswaldo Payá (who received the award in 2002), las Damas de Blanco (2005) and Guillermo Fariñas (2010).