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Marta Beatriz Roque
"We are going to continue working"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 03:30 GMT 04:30 UK
Third Cuban dissident freed
Marta Beatriz Roque
Another dissident Marta Beatriz Roque spent three years in jail
Cuba's communist government has released the third of four well-known dissidents whose sentences drew worldwide criticism and focused a spotlight on the island's human rights record.

Lawyer Rene Gomez Manzano, who was serving a four-year sentence, gave the V for victory sign as he arrived at a fellow dissident's home after being released on Tuesday afternoon.

"I can say that I have been repressed, but no one has convinced me that I am wrong - to the contrary," he said after greeting two other colleagues freed earlier this month.

It is unclear why the government freed Gomez Manzano.

First release

The first of the four, engineer Felix Bonne Carcasses, was released on 12 May. He had been sentenced to four years.

Both walked free after serving a little less than three years, including time spent behind bars before their sentence was handed down in the spring of 1999.

Felix Bonne Carcasses
Felix Bonne Carcasses, one of the "Group of Four", has also been freed

Marta Beatriz Roque was released on 15 May after serving most of her sentence.

Vladimiro Roca, a former military fighter pilot and son of a revered Communist Party leader, is still in jail. Roca was sentenced to five years.

"We are happy," said Gomez Manzano.

"But we also hope that our happiness will be made complete and that our brother Vladimiro be granted and enjoy freedom as well."

The releases come a month after Cuba received a United Nations censure for human rights abuses.

Cuban officials have been enraged by the vote and have lambasted Poland and the Czech Republic, both former socialist allies, for proposing the censure.

Although the four were jailed in July 1997, they were not sentenced until March 1999.

They were arrested after they criticized a Communist Party document that they said did not give solutions to Cuba's severe economic problems, and held several rare news conferences with the foreign media to publicise their complaints.

The government accused the four dissidents of promoting aggressive US policies toward the communist nation and trying to harm the economy by discouraging foreign investment.

They were also accused of urging Cubans not to vote, urging foreign businessmen not to invest in Cuba and asking Cuban exiles to encourage relatives on the island to undertake acts of civil disobedience.

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See also:

13 May 00 | Americas
Cuba frees leading dissident
26 Feb 00 | Americas
Cuban jailed over flag insult
25 Feb 00 | Americas
Dissident arrests reported in Cuba
05 Dec 99 | Americas
Silent protest in Havana
11 Nov 99 | Americas
Castro warning to dissidents
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