Cuban dissident hopes more political prisoners are freed

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A leading Cuban dissident said Friday he was surprised by Havana's decision to free more than 50 political prisoners but hopeful it could lead to further releases, according to a radio interview.

Guillermo Farinas ended a 135-day hunger strike Thursday after the Cuban government said it had reached an agreement with the Catholic Church to release 52 political detainees.

"I am the most surprised. It is necessary to give the government a margin of credibility for freeing these 52 prisoners," Farinas told Spanish national radio early Friday.

The psychologist and online journalist had been in intensive care since suffering a hypoglycemic shock two weeks after beginning his protest at the end of February, a day after another dissident, Orlando Zapata, died following an 85-day hunger strike.

Farinas's deteriorating condition had been reported in the official Communist Party newspaper Granma, in an unusual move that observers considered an attempt to defuse international criticism should he die.

Farinas said he had stopped his hunger strike -- the 23rd the 48-year-old had conducted -- "to untie the hands of those who are negotiating with the Cuban government".

"We do not want to exert any type of pressure because our interest is that our brothers are freed," he said.

"It is important that we learn to forgive those who repress us today, because I am fighting, and the majority of my brothers also, so that no blood is spilled," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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