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Cuba frees dissident who sparked hunger strike

12 october 2012, 16:19
Photo courtesy of cubanet.org
Photo courtesy of cubanet.org
Cuba has released Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, a dissident whose case sparked a hunger strike by 30 protesters last month, though he remains under "many restrictions," he told AFP.

"I'm very happy... But I'm on probation, with many restrictions. I cannot go to public places or leave the province," he said by phone late Wednesday from his home in the city of Sagua la Grande.

"They do this to try and control me, to neutralize me so I will not fight for human rights, but I will go on. No one will stop me," he said.

The 42-year-old was supposed to have been released on September 9 after serving a year and a half sentence for "illegal economic activity."

However, local authorities said last month that his release had been postponed to April 2013, leading to the declaration of a hunger strike on September 10 that eventually included 30 activists.

Chaviano said he also took part in the strike.

The strike ended eight days later after the Supreme Court informed Chaviano's family that he would be released.

Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque, a former political prisoner who began the strike, called it "a victory for the Cuban people... and democracy."

Hunger strikes have become the highest-profile weapon of Cuba's dissidents, with two prisoners having died after refusing food for weeks -- Orlando Zapata in February 2010 and Wilman Villar in January 2012.

Cuba views the opposition as US-backed "mercenaries" bent on overthrowing its decades-old communist regime.

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