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Cuba: Church announces release of 52 political prisoners

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral

The Catholic Church in Cuba has announced that 52 political prisoners are going to be released over the next three to four months. A communiqué from the archdiocese of Havana  has said that five prisoners will be released soon and allowed to move to Spain and join their families there.

The move has come after Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, working on behalf of the EU Council of Ministers,  Miguel Ángel Moratinos Moratinos,  held a meeting in Havana with president Castro, Archbishop Jaime Ortega, and his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez.

The 52 opposition members that will be released in ‘three or four months’ are those belonging to the ‘Group of 75’ who were were received jail sentences of up to 28 years during the so called ‘black spring’ of 2003.

The same communiqué says that six other prisoners will be moved to detention centres located in their provinces of origin.

“The process has considered proposals previously made to Cardinal Ortega by the prisoners’ family members,” said the note.

Since May 19, when Castro met Cardinal Ortega and the president of the Cuban Episcopal Conference, Msgr Dionisio García Ibáñez, the government has released Ariel Sigler, an opposition member who was in ill health, and moved 12 other prisoners to provincial detention centres.

The death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata last February after a hunger strike lead to international protests.

Currently, the focus is on the state of health of the independent journalist and psychologist Guillermo Fariñas, who has been in hospital in Santa Clara since last March. He began a hunger strike after the death of Zapata. A  religious source has said that he may resume drinking water after the first five prisoners are released.

Source: MISNA