Debbie Mucarsel-Powell celebrates Cuba’s release of Silverio Portal Contreras
Image via AP.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell
Portal Contreras says he was abused in prison following his 2018 prosecution.

In October, Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell led a bipartisan group to support a resolution demanding Silverio Portal Contreras be released from Cuban prison. Now, that wish has come true.

Mucarsel-Powell celebrated his freedom in a statement Monday. Portal Contreras secured his release last week and spoke out about the abuse he endured while in captivity. Portal Contreras was prosecuted in 2018 for protesting and sentenced to four years in prison.

Amnesty International dubbed Portal Contreras a “prisoner of conscience,” while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights highlighted Portal Contreras’ mistreatment by the Cuban government.

Now, Portal Contreras is once again a free man.

“This is a hard-fought win for liberty,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “I thank all the activists and bipartisan members who joined me in pushing for Silverio Portal Contreras’ release.”

Republican Reps. Brian Mast and Ted Yoho joined Mucarsel-Powell to co-sponsor the October resolution. Democratic Reps. Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson also co-sponsored the measure.

After his release, Portal Contreras said he had suffered physical abuse, which resulted in strokes, high blood pressure, difficulty moving his limbs and other ailments. He argued Cuban officials released him for fear he may die in captivity, thereby dodging a potential international firestorm.

“Silverio Portal Contreras was imprisoned for nothing more than speaking out against the Castro regime for cruel human rights violations,” Mucarsel-Powell said in October in a statement announcing her resolution.

Though Portal Contreras survived, Mucarsel-Powell is still pressuring Cuba to adopt reforms.

“Once and for all, the Cuban regime must end its cruel, politically motivated arrests of citizens who advocate for human rights and democracy,” Mucarsel-Powell added Monday.

In November, Mucarsel-Powell lost her seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District to Republican candidate Carlos Giménez. Giménez, the former Miami-Dade County Mayor, is of Cuban descent and will likely continue to pressure the current Cuban regime.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.



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