Six released Cuban political prisoners leave Cuba for Spain

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Six political prisoners released by Cuba traveled to Spain late Monday along with their close relatives, the first of 52 authorized to leave the country, an official at the Spanish embassy in Havana told AFP.

Their release will be the culmination of a surprise deal between the Catholic Church and the government struck last week after a politically embarrassing hunger strike to near-death by dissident Guillermo Farinas.

The ex-prisoners and some 30 relatives boarded a regularly scheduled Air Europa flight to Spain.

A seventh released prisoner will be boarding a later Iberia airlines flight, the diplomat said.

The released prisoners leaving the country are Pablo Pacheco, Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, Lester Gonzalez, Antonio Villarreal, Julio Cesar Galvez, Omar Ruiz, Ricardo Gonzalez, and their relatives, said former political prisoner Oscar Espinosa, who got a phone call from one of them just before they boarded the flight.

Foreign reporters were kept away from the group.

© 2010 AFP

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