updated 11/12/2010 11:31:47 AM ET 2010-11-12T16:31:47

The wife of one of 13 remaining Cuban dissidents jailed since 2003 says a state security official has indicated the men will be freed within a month, the first sign the government still plans to release them since letting a church-negotiated deadline pass.

The official visited Diosdado Gonzalez at the Combinado del Sur jail in Matanzas on Tuesday and gave him the news, his wife Alejandrina Garcia told The Associated Press on Friday.

"He told him that they would be freed, and that the government's word had not been broken," Garcia said. "He said that in 15 to 30 days they would release the 13."

Gonzalez, a 48-year-old electrician, is serving a 20-year sentence for treason and other charges. He was among the activists, social commentators and opposition figures rounded up in a 2003 crackdown against peaceful dissent.

Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to release the men during a July 7 sit down with Havana's Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega and then-Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. The church said the deal called for all 52 of the remaining prisoners to be released within 4 months, a period that ended Sunday with no word on their fate.

The government has had no comment on the passing of the deadline, or on whether it still plans to free the prisoners.

Cuba has released 39 of the dissidents, sending them into exile in Spain along with their families. The remaining 13, including Gonzalez, have refused to leave the island, a direct challenge to a government that would prefer they take their views elsewhere.

Some of the men have told their families they plan to resume their calls for democracy as soon as they are out of jail.

Garcia said her husband was told he and the other men would be allowed to return to their homes in Cuba. She said her husband was given permission to call her with the news after his meeting with the security official, who identified himself only as "Irvin."

"He was very hopeful," she said of her husband. "Now, if the government was lying and my husband is not out in 30 days, he will no longer believe in anyone."

Laura Pollan, a leader of the Ladies in White, or Damas de Blanco, which is made up of the wives and mothers of the jailed dissidents, told AP she had met in recent days with church officials and functionaries at the Spanish Embassy in Havana.

She said they told her they had heard nothing more from the government on the men's fate, but urged her to be patient.

"They told us to wait a few days. They said the agreement has not been broken and the process of liberation will continue, even though the deadline has passed," she said.


Associated Press reporter Paul Haven contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments