Six Cuban dissidents 'ready' for release

15th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A new batch of six Cuban political prisoners is ready to be released and sent to Spain having undergone medical tests and filled out the necessary paperwork, friends and family said Sunday.

Relatives of the dissidents planning to travel to Spain with them said the prisoners had received medical examinations and their travel clothes on Saturday.

"We are ready at any moment to travel, with God's help," Catalina Cano, the aunt of the of the dissidents who plans to travel with him, told AFP.

In a deal struck between the Catholic Church and Havana that was brokered by Spain, Cuba agreed to free 52 of 75 dissidents sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of up to 28 years.

The agreement, which saw a first main group of 20 prisoners released in July, followed talks between Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana, and President Raul Castro in May.

Laura Pollan, who heads the Ladies in White rights group women -- wives and mothers of the 75 political prisoners -- said it was always joyful to see a dissident released.

"But it hurts to see them leave for exile, to leave the prison directly to the airport and not be able to say goodbye to relatives and friends who are not traveling," she told AFP.

Cuban dissidents say that even after the release of the 52, another 115 political prisoners will still be languishing behind bars in Cuba.

Those set to be released are Marcelo Cano, 45, a medical doctor; poet Regis Iglesias, 40; journalists Juan Carlos Herrera, 44; Fabio Prieto, 47; and Juan Fernandez, 61; and Efren Fernandez, 57, who briefly went on a hunger strike.

© 2010 AFP

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