Church in Cuba Names Prisoners to Be Released

5 Will Be Freed, 6 Others Moved to Home Provinces

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HAVANA, Cuba, JULY 9, 2010 ( The Church in Cuba published the names of five political prisoners who will be released, and the identities of six others who will be moved to their home provinces.

On Wednesday the Archdiocese of Havana announced the forthcoming release of 52 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.

On Thursday, the Church published the list of those who will be released, all of whom will be given the option of moving to Spain if they want.
A communiqué from the Havana Archdiocese, signed on Thursday by spokesman Orlando Márquez Hidalgo, stated: «As we anticipated in yesterday’s note, five prisoners will be able to leave for Spain in the next few days.»
The note listed the names of the five prisoners who will be released: Antonio Villarreal Acosta, Lester González Pentón, Luis Milán Fernández, José Luis García Paneque and Pablo Pacheco Ávila.
Another note, also signed by the spokesman, stated: «Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, has been informed by the authorities that in the next few hours six prisoners will be moved to their provinces of residence.»
According to the communiqué, the names of these prisoners are: Nelson Molinet Espino, Claro Sánchez Altarriba, José Daniel Ferrer García, Marcelo Manuel Cano Rodríguez, Ángel Juan Moya Acosta, and Luis Enrique Ferrer García.

Hunger strike ended
Also on Thursday, in response to the news about the forthcoming freedom of the prisoners, Guillermo Fariñas, 48, a journalist and political dissident, announced that he is giving up his hunger strike, which he began Feb. 26 to protest the continued detention of ill prisoners.

«Guillermo Fariñas put an end to his hunger strike from this moment,» said Gisela Delgado after visiting the journalist, who since March 11 has been in intensive care in Santa Clara Hospital.

Fariñas acknowledged in his first public statements that the government «is granting more than what I was asking for.»
The families of the five prisoners who will be released celebrated when they received the news.

Cardinal Ortega gave the news personally to some of the prisoners. The prelate has been meeting 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.
The mother of José Luis García Paneque, one of the prisoners who chose to go to Spain, said that she was «very happy» but at the same time «very nervous,» over the news that her son was one of those who benefited from the mediation.
Moralita Paneque explained to Europa Press that her 41-year-old son, who «has been sick» in recent years, heard the news in Las Dunas prison in a phone call from the ecclesiastical authorities.

Another mother, Mireya Pentón, expressed the happiness of the whole family when they heard that 30-year-old Lester González Pentón would be released. She said that her son himself gave them the news.
«I have not even wanted to leave my home,» said Mireya, as she is waiting to hear when her son will be able to leave for Spain. She said that some family members will travel with Lester, including his wife and daughters.
Another prisoner, Pablo Pacheco Ávila, told Europa Press that the Cuban authorities said that «soon» he would be traveling to Spain with his family.

He clarified that at no time was he «forced» by the Castro regime to accept the proposal to leave the island.
Ávila recalled that Cardinal Ortega called him in the provincial prison of Ciego de Avila around 1:00 that afternoon to inform him of his pending release. «That surprised me,» said the independent journalist, who was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison.
Prison authorities then told Ávila about the option to travel to Spain. He said: «They told me, ‘If you wish; it isn’t something obligatory,’ and I accepted because they did not force me or oblige me to accept anything.»
Ávila noted that he also learned of the forthcoming release of the 51 other prisoners. He stated, «I hope that all this will be the beginning of the reconciliation of all Cubans.»

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