Freed Cuban dissidents can resettle in US: State Dept

5th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Washington will allow most of the 38 dissidents recently released from prison in Cuba to resettle in the United States, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

Spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet said in a statement that the US government had "arranged for the Department of State to refer to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) certain recently released Cuban political prisoners who express a desire to come to the United States to be eligible."

The 38 freed dissidents are part of a group of 52 opposition activists that Cuba agreed to release before November, most of whom have gone to Spain.

"The US embassy in Madrid is actively reaching out to the released political prisoners to inform them of this possibility and share information about eligibility," Luoma-Overstreet said.

The Havana government agreed on July 7 to release the remaining 52 of 75 dissidents still behind bars after being arrested in a March 2003 crackdown.

The landmark deal securing their freedom was part of a arrangement brokered by the Madrid government and the Catholic Church, and came after dissident hunger striker Guillermo Farinas nearly starved to death.

If all 52 dissidents are freed, it will be the largest release of Cuban prisoners since 1998 when 300 dissidents were spared jail time following a visit by then-pope John Paul II.

© 2010 AFP

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