Cuban political dissident Oswaldo Paya on Wednesday called on the European Union to put pressure on the government of President Raul Castro to release political prisoners on the island.
Paya, who won the 2002 Sakharov freedom of thought award, asked the EU in a letter to press Cuba in a “public and sustained manner” for the liberation of political prisoners on the island.
The statement was issued by Paya’s outlawed group, the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL).
Paya also called for the EU to support his group’s demands favoring legal changes “so that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are respected” in Cuba.
The EU imposed sanctions on Cuba after 75 dissidents were arrested in a 2003 crackdown. The sanctions were suspended in 2005, and are up for a review in June.
EU aid commissioner Louis Michel visited Cuba in early March and said that the time was right for the European Union to begin a dialogue with Cuba toward normalizing ties and removing the sanctions.