Cuban Government To Release Up To 52 Political Prisoners, Catholic Church Official Says
July 8, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Cuba’s Catholic Church announced Wednesday that the communist government has agreed to release up to 52 political prisoners that were arrested in 2003, accused of plotting against the Castro government.
The decision was announced after a meeting between Cuban head of state Raúl Castro, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, and other officials, according to The Associated Press.
Cuba has come under fire internationally for its treatment of political dissidence since the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February. The Catholic Church has played a key role in mediating the conflict, negotiating the release of one prisoner and the transfer of others to facilities closer to their home towns.
The announcement followed the news, first reported by Cuba’s government-run newspaper, Granma, that political dissident Guillermo Fariñas had developed a potentially fatal blood clot. Fariñas, who has been on a hunger strike since February, has vowed to refuse food until the Cuban government releases its political prisoners.
According to Cardinal Ortega’s announcement, the first five prisoners would leave Cuba for Spain upon their release. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos attended the meeting with Castro and Ortega, The BBC reports.
The Cuban government does not recognize the prisoners in question as dissidents, referring to them instead as common criminals and alleging that they accepted support from the U.S. government to oppose the communist regime.
Other Top News — A Paris court convicted former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega of laundering drug money in France in the 1980s, sentencing him to seven years in prison.
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- Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, stated that Honduras’ return to the OAS is “only a matter of time”.
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