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Cuban dissidents welcomed to Madrid

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Cuban dissidents welcomed to Madrid


They are speaking freely in public for the first time after years in jail.

Some of the 52 political prisoners released by Cuba in a surprise deal with the Catholic church have arrived in Spain to begin a new life as exiles.

The dissidents were locked up in a government crackdown in 2003.

One of those released, Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, said: “For the others who don’t want to abandon the country in which they were born, we hope that those who stay in Cuba will enjoy the same freedoms that we have now.”

So far 20 of the dissidents released have accepted Spain’s offer of refuge.

Another man freed, Léster González Pentón, said: “For me and us the word ‘change’ starts with freedom for our comrades, but also freedom for every Cuban, no matter what they think or whatever they are like. Cuba deserves democracy, and with democracy everyone takes part, independent of his or her opinion.”

The decision to release the dissidents, thought to be about a third of Cuba’s known political prisoners, has been welcomed by the US and other countries.

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