Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OAS chief asks Cuba to free ailing political prisoners

OAS chief asks Cuba to free ailing political prisoners
Apr, 20, 2010 03:13 PM - EFE Ingles

Madrid, Apr 20 (EFE).- The secretary-general of the Organization of
American States asked the Cuban government on Friday to free ailing
political prisoners, as demanded by hunger-striking dissident Guillermo

"There's a hunger strike going on, that of Mr. Fariñas, which is really
terrible. I hope this can be resolved quickly," Jose Miguel Insulza told
Efe after speaking in Madrid at a seminar about relations between the
European Union and Latin America.

The release of "political prisoners who are ill" would be a
demonstration of goodwill that would not weaken the Cuban regime," the
OAS chief said. "Far from weakening it, I think it would improve its image."

"It's all in the hands of the Cuban government," the former Chilean
foreign minister said, adding that in any case, people should not be
locked up for their opinions.

Guillermo Fariñas, 48, began his hunger strike on Feb. 24, when jailed
dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died following an 85-day fast.

Fariñas, a psychologist, is demanding that Cuban President Raul Castro
free 26 political prisoners said to be in bad health.

For Insulza, Zapata's death has meant a downturn in the international
community's perception of Cuba, representing "a negative factor" for the
communist government in Havana.

About the economic embargo that the United States has maintained against
Cuba since 1962, Insulza said: "I've never been in favor of the embargo.
I don't have much faith in blockades and embargoes."

"After the OAS lifted its sanctions (against Havana) and suggested to
Cuba the need for a dialogue on the subjects of democracy and human
rights, what ought to follow are good negotiations between the United
States and Cuba," Insulza said.

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