More Cuban dissidents arrive in Spain, slam Castro regime

17th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Three more Cuban political prisoners arrived in Spain Tuesday, and immediately accused the communist government of using the release of dissidents to hide the "criminal repression" of its opponents.

Marcelo Cano, a 45-year-old doctor, poet Regis Iglesias, 40, and Efren Fernandez, 57, who briefly went on a hunger strike, arrived at Madrid airport accompanied by 15 relatives, a foreign ministry source said.

Another three -- journalists Juan Carlos Herrera, 44, Fabio Prieto, 47 and Juan Fernandez, 61 -- are also expected in Spain, "probably on Thursday," the source said.

The six will join 20 others who came to Spain last month after their release by Havana.

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

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

"These releases do not mean that the regime is opening up, what they have is a strategy to buy time," Fernandez told reporters in Madrid.

"It has been shown in recent days that there is criminal repression against dissidents in Cuba," he said.

Iglesias charged that by agreeing to release the dissidents, Havana is merely seeking to "clean up its image."

He said real change will only come in Cuba when there is "a transparent process of dialogue involving all the Cuban people, all ideological trends, both within the island and outside."

The releases came after dissident hunger striker Guillermo Farinas nearly starved to death in Cuba.

Havana wants to avoid a repeat of the death in detention of political prisoner Orlando Zapata on February 23, as it seeks closer international ties to improve its slumping economy.

© 2010 AFP

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