Cuba dissidents says 36 opposition activists freed in last two days

SHAFAQNA – One of Cuba’s most prominent dissident groups said on Friday that 36 opposition activists have been freed in the last two days as part of a deal to improve relations between Havana and Washington that was announced last month.

The dissident Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) said in a statement that 29 of its members were among the 36 released, adding that almost all of those freed were released on condition that they report regularly to the authorities.

UNPACU said Cuba’s communist government had warned nearly all of the freed dissidents that they risked being sent back to prison if they continued their activities as opposition activists.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU’s leader, said in the statement that the government must end its practice of jailing dissidents.

“Our freed prisoners are committed to continue fighting for the democratic Cuba which we all want,” Ferrer said.

Havana’s commitment to free a list of 53 prisoners was a major part of the historic deal announced last month under which the Cuban and U.S. governments agreed to renew diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostilities.

Most of those released over the last two days were accused of such offenses as resisting arrest and threatening police officers, and had been given short sentences.

Among the latest to be freed was Angel Yunier Remon, a popular hip-hop artist known as “The Critic,” who was arrested in 2013 after painting “Down With The Dictatorship!” on the street outside his home in the eastern city of Bayamo.

Remon had been sentenced to eight years behind bars.

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