Optimism is growing that a mission by Spain’s foreign minister to win the release of several Cuban prisoners of conscience will be successful.
Miguel Angel Moratinos has met church leaders who are leading efforts to advance human rights in the Communist-led country.
Significant talks with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez have led to speculation that at least 40 political prisoners could be released perhaps as early as today.
Cuba refuses to recognise that it is holding any dissidents.
Moratinos told reporters: “We believe the time has come, as a Spanish government, to overcome the current position and work towards a bilateral relationship which is much more structured and intense and that reflects the aspirations of both the European Union and Cuba.”
An independent commission says Cuba has 167 political prisoners.
Spain has consistently urged the EU to moderate its demands that Cuba improve human rights and adopt democracy, in order to help those in prison.
But its efforts were derailed by the death last February of Orlando Zapata Tamayo after he went on hunger strike.
The reported near-death condition of another dissident hunger striker, Guillermo Farinas, has added urgency to the Spanish Foreign Minister’s visit.