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Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet to be released

Posted on Thursday, 03.10.11

Cuban dissident Oscar Biscet to be released

Oscar Elías Biscet, one of Cuba's best-known political prisoners, will
be freed soon, the Catholic Church announced.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO and JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ
jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

The Cuban Catholic Church announced Thursday the upcoming release of
political prisoner Oscar Elías Biscet, the most unwavering and
best-known dissident of the 75 jailed during a repressive wave in 2003.

Biscet, a doctor who has been serving a 25-year sentence for alleged
activities against state security, is the president of the Lawton
Foundation for Human Rights.

Biscet, who is black, has become one of the best-known opponents in Cuba
and has earned the respect of both human rights groups and African
American activists in the United States.

From Cuba, dissident Guillermo Fariñas said that Biscet's release
represents a triumph of the peaceful opposition against a totalitarian
regime that consistently violates individual freedoms.

"It's great news. Biscet is a man of integrity who could contribute to
unify the Cuban opposition movement with all the ideas he has worked
on," Fariñas said. "He is an anti-Castro symbol who began to confront
the regime because of his opposition to abortion and later got involved
in other civil society issues."

The office of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, made the
announcement of Biscet's upcoming release by e-mail. In another e-mail,
he also announced the release of another nine political prisoners who do
not belong to the Group of 75.

Biscet suffered numerous arrests beginning in 1998. He was convicted in
2000 and arrested again in 2002. He was tried in 2003 with the 75
arrested in the raid known as Black Spring.

Biscet's wife, Elsa Morejón, could not be reached for comment, but last
month she told El Nuevo Herald that she was expecting her husband to be
one of the last prisoners released because of his steadfast activism.

After Biscet's release, only three other dissidents of the 75 would
remain in prison: Librado Linares, José Daniel Ferrer and Félix Navarro.

Ortega has negotiated with Raúl Castro's government during the process
announced on July 7 for the release of 52 of the 75. Others had been
previously released due to poor health.

The Cuban government has also released more than 45 men and women
considered political prisoners after being sentenced for acts of
violence such as hijacking boats and planes.

All those recently released were immediately sent directly to Spain,
except for 10 members of the 75 who, like Biscet, refused to leave the
country.

Those who opted to remain in Cuba have vowed to continue their
opposition activities though they were released under a special permit
that indicates that they could be imprisoned again at any moment.

Castro promised in July that 52 political prisoners would be released
within four months, or by Nov. 7. Yet there has been no explanation for
the delays.

The authorities accuse the dissidents of being "mercenaries" paid by the
United States, though they say they do not need to be paid to oppose the
government.

Former political prisoner Pedro Argüelles Morán said Biscet's release
was encouraging for all Cubans fighting for freedom and democracy in the
country. "It's very important to see him free for what he represents to
the people, for activists and exiles," he said. "He is one more person
on the streets denouncing human rights violations. His release is very
important."

Independent economist and journalist Héctor Palacios said Biscet
represents a great opportunity for the nation's future.

"He is smart and has a lot of following," he said. "I wish he comes out
healthy and as upbeat as always.''

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/10/2109217/cuban-dissident-oscar-biscet-to.html

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