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Three More Freed Cuban Dissidents Arrive in Spain


Another three Cuban dissidents are free, the result of a landmark deal brokered with Cuba by Spain and the Roman Catholic Church last month.

The three dissidents arrived in the Spanish capital, Madrid, Tuesday, accompanied by 15 family members. Spanish officials say three more dissidents are expected to arrive in the coming days, bringing the total number released under the deal to 26.

Cuba has agreed to free 52 of the 75 prisoners sentenced to lengthy prison terms following a government crackdown on the opposition in 2003.

Last month, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos predicted that Cuba would improve its relations with the European Union and the United States if it freed all political prisoners.

Cuba has long been criticized for its treatment of prisoners. On Tuesday, the rights group Amnesty International called on Cuban authorities to end what it described as the "harassment" of the mother of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in February after an 85-day hunger strike in prison.

Amnesty said Reina Luisa Tamayo told the organization she has been harassed repeatedly by authorities and government supporters during regular marches in memory of her son.

Tamayo told Amnesty that government supporters have blocked her and her family from marching. In one incident earlier this month, she said government supporters beat some of her relatives and family friends, and that nearby police failed to intervene. She told Amnesty that Cuban security forces also detained a group of women in their homes before another march, without any explanation, and for up to two days.

Amnesty's deputy director for the Americas, Kerrie Howard, says the treatment of Reina Luisa Tamayo and recent detentions of independent journalists and dissidents show Cuban authorities have yet to make significant progress on human rights. Cuba has said it holds no political prisoners, only what it calls "mercenaries" who Havana claims are working with the United States to undermine Cuban communism.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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