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Cuba prisoner release: Seven 'Black Spring' dissidents are freed in Spain

Seven Cuba prisoners, all jailed in the 2003 roundup of dissidents, activists, and journalists known as 'Black Spring' arrived to freedom at the international airport in Madrid, Spain, today. Dozens more at set to be released.

Released Cuban political prisoner Ricardo Gonzalez (r.) gestures next to Julio Cesar Galvez (l.) and Omar Ruiz and as they arrive for a news conference at Madrid's Barajas Airport Tuesday. Gonzalez, Galvez, Ruiz and four others, the first seven of 52 political prisoners to be freed in a deal with the Roman Catholic Church, arrived in Madrid on Tuesday, bound for a new life as Cuban exiles in Spain.

Juan Medina/Reuters

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The protagonists of the Cuba prisoner release agreement – the largest deal of its kind in more than a decade – have arrived in Spain.
 
Seven former prisoners, all jailed in the 2003 roundup of dissidents, activists, and journalists known as “Black Spring,” appeared at the international airport in Madrid, with words of hope that dozens of other prisoners are granted the same freedoms eventually.
 
“We hope that those that continue in Cuba will be able to enjoy the same liberties as we have at this moment," Julio Cesar Galvez, one of the former prisoners, read in a statement by the group. "Our arrival signals the start of a new period in the future of Cuba.”
 
Their release was the work of negotiations spearheaded by the Roman Catholic Church and Spanish officials, and they represent the first of 52 prisoners promised to be released in coming months.

Of the original 75 arrested in the “Black Spring” roundup, some had already been released for having fulfilled their terms or due to health reasons. But many suspect that Cuba's real motive for the new release is to bolster ties with the European Union, which has demanded the release of political prisoners, at a time when Cuba´s economy is ailing.

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