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Posted July 23, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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Cuba has released dissident economist Martha Beatriz Roque, the only woman among 75 people arrested 16 months ago in a crackdown on dissent.

Roque, whose health deteriorated in jail, was freed on Thursday morning, said fellow dissident Rene Gomez Manzano.

She was the eleventh critic of President Fidel Castro to be freed in the last few months. Since April, the government has released seven of the 75 jailed dissidents picked up in the 2003 crackdown for health reasons. Four others who had been held without trial for two years were also freed.
A year ago, Roque was moved to a military hospital because her health was failing. She was suffering from high blood pressure, chest pain and nose bleeds.

Veteran rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said eight of Cuba’s 10 dissident prisoners whose health was the worst have been released in recent weeks in a government move to improve its image.

Roque, 58, was serving a 20-year sentence for conspiring with the United States against Cuba. She was found guilty, among other things, of creating a Web site that reported on Cuba’s deteriorating economic situation.

It was Roque’s second stint in jail. She served three years in the late 1990s for criticising the government’s economic policies along with three other economists known as the Group of Four.

Sanchez said there are 315 Cubans in jail for political reasons and 83 of them are considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

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