Published March 18, 2011 | EFE
Cuban authorities have released the dissident Librado Linares, one of 75 government opponents sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a 2003 crackdown, according to the opposition member himself, who said he intends to continue working for human rights and democracy in Cuba.
"Human rights are intrinsic to everyone and no government can either give them to us or take them away," Linares told Efe in a telephone conversation from his home in the central province of Villa Clara, where he returned Thursday afternoon after eight years in jail.
The dissident said he was "very moved" and "feeling the impact" of being once more with his family, friends, neighbors and fellow dissidents who were waiting to welcome him home.
Linares, who led the Cuban Reflection Movement at the time he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison during the Black Spring of 2003, confirmed his intention to continue at the head of the organization, and did not rule out the possibility of transforming that project into another much bigger.
The release of that dissident, announced Wednesday by the island's Catholic hierarchy, leaves two members of the Group of 75 still in prison: Felix Navarro and Jose Daniel Ferrer.
Spanish-supported talks between President Raul Castro and Cuba's Catholic hierarchy led last summer to a government pledge that the 52 Group of 75 prisoners who then remained behind bars would be released within four months.
All of the members of that group were adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International and Havana was under international pressure to release them after one Group of 75 member, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died following a lengthy hunger strike in February 2010.
Forty of those dissidents were freed after accepting exile to Spain, but getting out of prison has taken much longer for those who refused to leave the country, as in the case of Linares.
Since last October, the Cuban government has extended its freeing of prisoners on condition of exile to Spain to another kind of convict, those sentenced for crimes against state security, though the internal opposition does not acknowledge many of the latter to be active dissidents.
The island's Communist government does not recognize that it is holding political prisoners, saying imprisoned dissidents are mercenaries working with the United States to undermine the revolution.