Cuban dissident freed from jail

Rene Gomez Manzano is released after spending 18 months in prison without charge.

    Manzano said he had undertaken two hunger strike during his detention [EPA]

    Hunger strikes
    Gomez Manzano is the fourth jailed dissident to be released since Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, relinquished power temporarily to his brother Raul following emergency surgery in late July.
    The 63-year-old said he didn't think his release was due to Fidel's health problems.
    Despite his jailing he said he would continue his activism. "Change will come sooner than later," he said.
    Gomez Manzano said he had undertaken two hunger strikes during his time behind bars to protest his jailing - one for three days, and another for eight days.
    In both cases, he said, prison authorities administered intravenous fluids to keep him alive.
    Situation unchanged
    Two of the 20 people arrested on the same day as Gomez Manzano during the demonstration outside the French embassy were released in October.
    The others are still being held without trial for the street protest that sought to attract European support for Cuban dissidents.
    The country's main rights watchdog, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the number of Cubans in prison for political reasons dropped to 283 at the end of 2006 from 333 the year before.
    But the commission, which is illegal but tolerated by the government, said the rights situation was unchanged and could deteriorate further due to the lack of political reforms on the one-party state.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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