Cuba releases another “Group of 75” dissident
Cuba releases another "Group of 75" dissident
Published March 18, 2011
Havana – Cuban authorities have released the dissident Librado Linares,
one of 75 government opponents sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a
2003 crackdown, according to the opposition member himself, who said he
intends to continue working for human rights and democracy in Cuba.
"Human rights are intrinsic to everyone and no government can either
give them to us or take them away," Linares told Efe in a telephone
conversation from his home in the central province of Villa Clara, where
he returned Thursday afternoon after eight years in jail.
The dissident said he was "very moved" and "feeling the impact" of being
once more with his family, friends, neighbors and fellow dissidents who
were waiting to welcome him home.
Linares, who led the Cuban Reflection Movement at the time he was
arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison during the Black Spring of
2003, confirmed his intention to continue at the head of the
organization, and did not rule out the possibility of transforming that
project into another much bigger.
The release of that dissident, announced Wednesday by the island's
Catholic hierarchy, leaves two members of the Group of 75 still in
prison: Felix Navarro and Jose Daniel Ferrer.
Spanish-supported talks between President Raul Castro and Cuba's
Catholic hierarchy led last summer to a government pledge that the 52
Group of 75 prisoners who then remained behind bars would be released
within four months.
All of the members of that group were adopted as prisoners of conscience
by Amnesty International and Havana was under international pressure to
release them after one Group of 75 member, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died
following a lengthy hunger strike in February 2010.
Forty of those dissidents were freed after accepting exile to Spain, but
getting out of prison has taken much longer for those who refused to
leave the country, as in the case of Linares.
Since last October, the Cuban government has extended its freeing of
prisoners on condition of exile to Spain to another kind of convict,
those sentenced for crimes against state security, though the internal
opposition does not acknowledge many of the latter to be active dissidents.
The island's Communist government does not recognize that it is holding
political prisoners, saying imprisoned dissidents are mercenaries
working with the United States to undermine the revolution.