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US Working to Accept Cuba's Former Political Prisoners


Members of Cuban female dissident group Ladies in White demonstrate during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, 19 Sep 2010. Cuba's Roman Catholic Church announced last week that three more political prisoners are set to be released into exile in Spain.

Members of Cuban female dissident group Ladies in White demonstrate during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, 19 Sep 2010. Cuba's Roman Catholic Church announced last week that three more political prisoners are set to be released into exile in Spain.

Cuba's Roman Catholic Church announced last week that three more political prisoners are set to be released into exile in Spain, bringing to 39 the number freed.

The U.S. State Department said it is arranging to accept a majority of political prisoners recently released from Cuba.

State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet said in a statement the U.S. Embassy in Madrid is reaching out to the released political prisoners and their families to inform them of the plan and discuss their eligibility.

Last week, the Roman Catholic Church announced that three more prisoners are scheduled to be freed and sent to Spain, which would bring to 39 the number released under an agreement with the government of President Raul Castro, the church and Madrid.

Cuba has promised to release a total of 52 prisoners under the agreement, in what would be the largest mass liberation of political prisoners in recent years.

The 52 were among 75 dissidents arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms following a government crackdown in 2003.

Cuba has long maintained that it does not hold political prisoners, only "mercenaries" that Havana claims were working with the United States to undermine Cuban communism.

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

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