Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Cuban dissidents released from jail

Cuba's dissident Hector Maseda embraces his wife Laura Pollan after being released from jail in Havana (AP)

Two well-known Cuban dissidents have been released from prison - despite both men previously declaring they wanted to remain in jail until other opposition leaders were freed.

The release of Hector Maseda and Angel Moya means that just seven of the original 75 opposition figures arrested in a 2003 crackdown remain in Cuban jails - but neither was happy about it.

The decision to release Mr Moya was announced more than a week ago, but he had refused to leave jail - saying he wanted ailing dissidents to go free first.

On Friday, the Roman Catholic Church announced that the government wanted to release Mr Maseda, but he too turned them down, saying he wanted authorities to exonerate or pardon him, not simply grant him parole.

In the end, jail officials simply tossed the men out, saying they could no longer stay behind bars, even if they wanted to.

"I have left prison against my will," Mr Maseda told journalists after arriving at his home in the capital, Havana. "I never would have accepted leaving jail on parole."

Mr Moya arrived at his home a few hours later, also saying he was thrown out of jail against his will.

A small group of pro-government demonstrators screamed at him from the street, shouting slogans like "Fidel! Fidel! Down with the worms!"

Mr Maseda, 67, is the husband of Laura Pollan, and Mr Moya is married to Bertha Soler, two leaders of the Ladies in White opposition group.

The group, which is comprised of the wives and mothers of jailed opposition figures, has marched peacefully through the capital each Sunday since 2003.

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