February 7, 2011
HAVANA | A leader of Cuba’s Ladies in White opposition group said Sunday that she will urge a colleague to end a 10-day-old hunger strike she began to demand freedom for her jailed husband, saying the protest could be counterproductive.
Laura Pollan said she plans to travel to the home of Alejandrina Garcia, near the central city of Matanzas, to deliver the message personally.
The Cuban government Friday released one of 11 political prisoners held since a 2003 crackdown on dissent that swept up 75 dissidents, and the Catholic Church that announced another release is imminent.
Mrs. Garcia has been on a hunger strike since Jan. 28 to demand freedom for her husband, Diosdado Gonzalez, another of the remaining 2003 prisoners. Mr. Gonzalez and another political prisoner joined the protest from behind bars Tuesday.
“We will talk to her about putting aside the strike,” Mrs. Pollan said Sunday before a protest march by the Ladies in White, which is composed of the wives and mothers of some of the jailed political prisoners. She added that if the government felt boxed into a corner, it would be less likely to make good on its promise to release the dissidents.
Mrs. Garcia’s son, Reymar Gonzalez, said his mother was in good spirits 10 days into the strike but that she is weak and suffering from abdominal pains.
Some of the prisoners had been released for medical or other reasons. In July, Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to free all 52 who remained after a meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
At the time, Cardinal Ortega said the deal called for the men to be out by November.
Authorities quickly released 41 of the men, sending all but one of them into exile in Spain. Authorities halted the release after those who remained behind bars refused to leave Cuba in a direct challenge to the Communist government.
A break in the impasse came Friday, when Cuba freed Guido Sigler and the church announced the imminent release of Angel Moya. While Mr. Sigler has indicated a desire to go to the United States, Mr. Moya had made clear he would remain in Cuba.
Two days after the announcement, however, Mr. Moya is still in jail.
His wife, Bertha Soler, said her husband is refusing to leave prison, insisting that other dissidents who are in poor health be freed first. The Cuban government had no comment.