Havana: Cuba released a political prisoner on Friday and told another he could go free as the government continued to clear dissidents from its prisons.
They were among 10 prisoners still behind bars of 52 people imprisoned since 2003 whom President Raul Castro has agreed to release in a deal brokered by the Roman Catholic Church.
One of the two men, Hector Maseda Gutierrez, refused to leave until remaining political prisoners are released, said his wife, Laura Pollan, who heads Cuba's leading opposition group, the Ladies in White.
The other, Eduardo Diaz Fleitas, left prison and said he would continue fighting to change Cuba.
"I feel happy to be here and thankful to the Church and the things it has done," he said from his home in the town of Herradura in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
"I will fight for transparency, well-being, change (and), transformations, although now I have certain limitations," he said. Diaz was released on parole, meaning he could be sent back to jail if he angers the government.
He was originally sentenced to 21 years in prison.
The two were among 75 dissidents imprisoned in a 2003 crackdown on the opposition that damaged Cuba's international relations.
Castro agreed in July to release the 52 who were still in prison. The process was expected to take four months but has stretched out to more than seven.
It has been delayed because Cuba wants the dissidents, whom it views as mercenaries working for its longtime ideological enemy the United States, to leave the country. But some have refused.
Diaz and Maseda will be allowed to stay in Cuba.
First Published: Saturday, February 12, 2011, 09:16