Church in Cuba: 52 More Prisoners to Be Released

Spanish Foreign Minister Assists Mediation Efforts

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HAVANA, Cuba, JULY 8, 2010 ( The Church in Cuba is expecting the release of 52 more political prisoners — five immediately and 47 more in the coming three or four months. Their release is another fruit of mediation by the Church, which already brought the freedom of a paraplegic prisoner and the relocation of 12 others.

This latest achievement was announced Wednesday by the Archdiocese of Havana. The archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, has met with Cuban President Raúl Castro in a mediation process that began May 19.

In his latest meeting with the president Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla participated.

«In the context of today’s meetings,» the archdiocesan statement announced, «and following the continuity of the process mentioned earlier, Cardinal Ortega was informed that in the coming hours, six other prisoners will be moved to their provinces of residence and five others will be freed and will be able to leave shortly for Spain in the company of their relatives.»
«Moreover, the Cuban authorities reported that the 47 remaining prisoners of those arrested in 2003, will be set free and will be able to leave the country,» the statement continued. «This transaction will be concluded in a period of three to four months from this moment.
«This process has taken into consideration the proposals expressed previously to Cardinal Ortega by the prisoners’ relatives.»


The 52 political prisoners who will be released by the Cuban regime in the forthcoming months will travel to Spain, though later they will be able to go to other countries, Moratinos said today from the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Havana.

He added that he was unaware of the identity of the five prisoners to be released first, since the archbishopric was to select them based on their health and desire to leave for Spain.
The foreign minister also said Cuban authorities have guaranteed that the prisoners’ properties on the island will not be confiscated and that their relatives will be able to return when they wish. Former prisoners will not be excluded from this possibility, but they will need authorization.
Cardinal Ortega also met with Moratinos on Tuesday. Afterward they spoke briefly with the press, expressing mutual gratitude for the other’s role.

«Reaffirmed with your visit is the hope that we already announced earlier about these topics of prisoners and of all that has to do with the progress of Cuba’s presence in the worldwide context considered positively,» the cardinal said.

He thanked the Spanish official for his position as a «bridge» with Cuba, as well as his effort to try to normalize relations with the European Union.
«I thank you as a Cuban, as archbishop of Havana and as a member of this Church that has had this special opportunity to carry forward a very propitious moment to be able to take some positive steps in the best sense of our national situation,» said the cardinal.
For his part, Moratinos manifested that the Spanish government is «very pleased» with the work of the Church in Cuba in its dialogue with the island’s authorities.
«We hope, of course, that this work will give results,» said the head of Spanish diplomacy, who guaranteed that the Spanish government «is supporting all the activities and actions of Cardinal Ortega and the Catholic Church.»

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