After 28 years, Cuba frees Miamian who attempted an armed uprising against Castro

·3 min read
Lizandra Real/Courtesy

Humberto Eladio Real Suárez, a Cuban exile who served 28 years in prison in Cuba after attempting an armed incursion into the country from Miami in 1994 from Miami, was freed this week..

“It has not been easy. I have endured it with a lot of patience and thank God my parents were always by my side,” he told independent news outlet Cubanet in his first public statement after his release from a prison facility in Matanzas province. “Thank God, above all things, who is with us in this daily struggle to see Cuba free and democratic.”

In Miami, his daughter, Lizandra Real, 34, was thrilled with the news.

“I am so happy. I haven’t talked to him in several years; I cried a lot,” she said. “My father is my hero.”

Real Suárez, 55, was just 26 when he disembarked with another six Cuban exiles in Caibarien, in central Cuba, with plans to foster an insurgency and fight Fidel Castro in the Escambray mountains.

The men were quickly arrested on Oct 15., 1994, and the island’s authorities said they had seized several weapons the group was carrying, including AK-47, AR-15 and M-14 rifles.

Real Suárez was accused of murdering a man and taking his car soon after they reached the island. He was sentenced to death by firing squad on April 1996. The other exiles were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

At the time, his mother pleaded with Castro in a letter, asking the island’s ruler to spare her son’s life.

“He was educated in revolutionary Cuba where he often heard that armed struggle is the only option to achieve the liberation of a people,” she said. “You and those who support you can argue that Cuba is now free, but my son doesn’t think so. He did not say a word of repentance, not even when it could have spared him the death [sentence].”

Under international pressure for the frequent use of the death sentence, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted his sentence to 30 years in prison in 2010, when it also revised other cases of people accused of violent acts against the government.

Shortly after Castro took power in 1959, many fellow guerrilla members who felt betrayed by his turn towards communism took arms in the Escambray mountains to try to overthrow him. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, several exile groups also tried over the years to foster an armed insurrection with little success. Real Suarez’s group was one of the last that attempted it.

He was considered among the political prisoners who had served the longest in the Western Hemisphere.

In Miami, where many organizations advocated for his freedom, news of his release was received with joy. Some Cuban exiles gathered around the monument to the 2506 Brigade, the Cuban exiles who fought in the Bay of Pigs, to celebrate.

In a statement Friday, the Assembly of Resistance called him a “patriot” and a ‘brave Cuban” who had returned to the island “to fight for the freedom of Cuba.”

“The motherland looks at you in pride,” the organization said, quoting Cuba’s national anthem.

Real Suárez told Cubanet that during his imprisonment, he feared for his family. Now, he wants to return to the United States to reunite with his daughter, who had to emigrate to the United States when she was 20 because of government harassment, she said. She was living in Cuba and was just five when her father got arrested.

“Here in Cuba, they accused me of being a terrorist, which I am not, “ Real Suárez said. “I do not intend to be in Cuba; I intend to travel to the land of freedom, to the United States, and take all my family with me.”