Ex-Spain PM Urges Release of
By KAREL JANICEK
The Associated Press
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) - Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria
Aznar on Friday called for the release of dozens of inmates in Cuba,
charging they're political prisoners held ``simply because they have a
different opinion from the official line.''
He spoke at a meeting of the International Committee for Democracy in
Cuba, which is examining ways to support resistance to Fidel Castro's
Participants highlighted the case of Raul Rivero, a dissident journalist
and author who was arrested in March 2003 along with 74 others in a
crackdown on the opposition.
``There's nothing to justify that people like Raul Rivero should be
imprisoned just because they wrote a critical poem against a dictator,''
They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 28 years on
charges of working with the U.S. government to undermine Cuba's
political system. Rivero received a 20-year term. Both he and Washington
have denied the charges.
The Cuban government has justified the crackdown, saying it has the
right to defend the nation from foreign attempts to change its socialist
The committee was founded a year ago by former Czech President Vaclav
Havel, who was a leading dissident during his own country's communist
times. The communist regime in Czechoslovakia, which later split into
the Czech Republic and Slovakia, fell in 1989.
``I think that the situation in Cuba will change quite soon,'' Havel
told the conference, adding that he hoped it will happen peacefully.