Cuba to free 2 prominent dissidents, church says
- Submitted by: manso
- Politics and Government
- 02 / 11 / 2011
AP. HAVANA – Cuba has agreed to release two prominent dissidents who have refused for months to accept exile in Spain, including the husband of a major opposition group leader, the Roman Catholic Church announced Friday.
The decision to free Hector Maseda and Eduardo Diaz was another major breakthrough in months of church-led negotiations with the government, which pledged in July to release 52 nonviolent activists, social commentators and opposition leaders jailed since a 2003 crackdown on dissent.
Forty-one of the prisoners were freed in the weeks after the decision, and all but one flew into exile in Spain, along with their families.
But the process stalled in recent months because those who remained refused to leave Cuban soil.
The first breakthrough in the standoff came last week, when the church announced the release of dissidents Angel Moya and Guido Sigler, despite the fact that Moya refused to leave the island.
Sigler, who has indicated a desire to move to the United States, arrived at his home shortly after. Moya has refused to leave prison, saying he will stay until other dissidents in poor health are free.
Cuban Roman Catholic Church spokesman Orlando Marquez announced the latest releases on Friday. He did not say when exactly Maseda and Diaz will get out of jail.
His announcement came just moments after the church announced the release of four other opposition prisoners arrested for violent crimes such as sabotage and hijacking.
Maseda, 67, is the husband of Laura Pollan, leader of the "Ladies in White" opposition group. Maseda was serving a 20-year sentence for treason and other charges. Diaz was serving a 21-year term on similar charges.
The Cuban government had no immediate comment on the latest releases.