Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Sunday 21 December  
Temporary residence permit
Edwin Koopman's picture
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain

Cuban exiles unhappy in Spain

Published on : 9 August 2011 - 5:58pm | By Edwin Koopman (photo; Edwin Koopman)
More about:

Freedom has a bitter aftertaste for 40 Cuban dissidents exiled to Spain. They were granted political asylum a year ago but the Spanish authorities haven't offered them any work and many feel their future is bleak. In retrospect, many say, they should have stayed in their Cuban prison cells.

The dissidents were part of the Group of 75: writers, journalists and activists who were arrested in March 2003 by the Cuban government. They all received lengthy prison sentences. The international community pressured Raul Castro's government into releasing them.

For some of the dissidents, part of their release agreements included going into exile. One of them is Miguel Galbán, a 46-year-old journalist who is now living in a Red Cross shelter with his niece and a neighbour.

"I've been here for a year now but my papers still haven't been sorted out. This means I cannot rent a house or get a job." His food is bought for him and he gets €50 spending money a month.

"Prison was horrible, but life here in Spain is much more difficult. I really regret going into exile."

He was sentenced to 26 years in jail for his work as an independent journalist. He was released in September 2010 and was one of the last Cuban dissidents to accept exile to Spain. Spain was hard-hit by the global economic crisis and when he arrived in Spain around 20% of the workforce was unemployed.

Ricardo González is another Cuban exile. However, the 61-year-old writer and journalist is glad he left. He spent more than seven years in prison. The Catholic Church mediated his release and the government agreed, on condition that he accept exile as the price for his freedom. He now lives with his wife and daughter in a tiny two-room apartment in a Madrid suburb.

He receives a €1,200 per month stipend and after paying the rent and monthly bills there is nothing left over for luxuries. The television set is ancient and there is no air-conditioning but he's not complaining.

"The Spanish people pay for all of this from their tax money. There are so many Spaniards who can only dream about having an apartment like this."

Estrella Galán of Spain's Refugee Aid Committee (CEAR) acknowledges that there have been problems but says the Cubans don't have cause for complaint.

"Normally it takes two or three years to be granted refugee status, but this group got it in less than half that time. These Cubans have received every sort of support imaginable. The government has made every effort, both financially and in dealing with the bureaucracy, to ensure their integration into Spanish society. However, the economic crisis doesn't care where you come from, it has hit everybody."

Meanwhile, many dissidents have run out of patience and look towards the United States, home to hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles, with longing in their eyes. So far, 12 of the 40 have left for the USA. Pablo Pacheco, another journalist who also served more than seven years in a Cuban jail, has his bags packed and is ready to go.

"My wife is a doctor but she still hasn't managed to get a licence to practice here. I found something here in Spain that I never had in Cuba: peace and freedom. But we can't live off that."

On Wednesday he leaves to join his brother in Florida to "finally, after all our miseries and troubles, start building a new life."



  • Ricardo González <br>&copy; photo: Edwin Koopman -
  • Miguel Galbán in prison<br>&copy; photo: Edwin Koopman -
  • Miguel Galbán in Barcelona<br>&copy; Photo: Edwin Koopman -
  • Pacheco family leaving for Florida<br>&copy; photo: Edwin Koopman -


Anonymous 10 December 2014 - 3:07pm

rince Friso was forced to choose between upholding his claim to the throne and the love of his life. He chose Mabel Wisse Smit - the couple got married in 2004 – and since then, Friso has not officially been a member of the ruling House of Orange. He was allowed to retain the title of Prince of Orange-Nassau.

toni yula 3 December 2014 - 5:56am / England

Obat herbal darah tinggi tradisional alami secara tuntas mengobati penyakit darah tinggi. Menjanjikan Garansi 1 bulan sembuh dari hipertensi / darah tinggi. Cara hidup sehat dengan Jaga pola makan sehat, Minum obat herbal secara teratur, dan olahraga dapat secara cepat menurunkan tekanan darah tinggi hipertensi. Sembuh dari penyakit darah tinggi hipertensi secara cepat tanpa efek samping dan tidak menyebabkan ketergantungan. Obat darah tinggi herbal tradisional terbaru paling ampuh.

rico 25 November 2014 - 4:36am

Everyone who was in exile certainly feel the pain and life is not easy, at least when they get started. There must be adaptation, assimilation with the local culture and society

obat herbal lemah syahwat 24 November 2014 - 2:37am / indonesia
avrilio 19 September 2014 - 1:16am

Everyone who was in exile certainly feel the pain and life is not easy, at least when they get started. There must be adaptation, assimilation with the local culture and society, and so on. The biggest difficulty will be obtained for those who are difficult to adapt.
And if everything was not easy for a long period of time, then the best option is to find a more friendly place.

grosiramazonplus 27 August 2014 - 9:13am

Jus Amazon Plus adalah jus Zaitun Hydroxytyrosol pelopor di dunia.
Jus Amazon Plus dalam bentuk jus yang berkomposisikan buah bermutu dari seluruh penjuru dunia. Salah satunya buah-buahan dari pedalaman Hutan Amazon, di Amerika Selatan yang digabung dengan manggis, ratu buah tropis asal Indonesia yang juga mengandung kandungan antioksidan tinggi, juga dipadukan dengan zaitun yang kaya akan senyawa Hydroxytyrosol.

Marsya 24 August 2014 - 5:53am / USA

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job !

Julia 23 August 2014 - 12:11pm / USA

Your great knowledge as well as kindness within playing with the pieces was very helpful. I don’t understand what I might have done basically had not really encountered this type of step such as this. Insured Profits

jamies 25 September 2014 - 12:19pm

Obat Tradisional Penyakit Trigliserida amazon Jus Kulit Manggis dapat mengobati penyakit trigliserida serta sangat aman jika digunakan & tidak akan menimbulkan efek samping bagi setiap yang meminumnnya.

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...