Cuba to Free 52 Dissidents

Decision could save life of man on hunger strike
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2010 7:16 AM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2010 7:56 AM CDT
A protester holds a sign in Spanish that reads It's Time For Cuba, and the photo of hunger striking dissident Guillermo Farinas, as marchers gathered in Little Havana in Miami, March 25, 2010.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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(Newser) – Cuba has promised to release 52 political prisoners, after one of them went on an attention-grabbing hunger strike. Guillermo Fariñas, a 48-year-old psychologist and journalist, has been hospitalized thanks to his hunger strike, which he began back in February, after a previous hunger striker starved to death. Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos came to Havana this week to attempt to save his life, and hammered out the release deal with Raul Castro and Havana Archbishop Jaime Ortega, the New York Times reports.

All of the prisoners slated for release were rounded up in a 2003 crackdown on dissents, which saw 75 journalists and activists imprisoned as American agents. Some have since been released, but those remaining have been a rallying point for Cuba’s detractors. The 52 will be released gradually over the next few months, with some expatriated to Spain. The deal should improve relations between the US and Cuba and hopefully make Fariñas resume eating. “I feel like I’m born again,” his mother said.

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