- The Washington Times - Monday, December 6, 2004

CUBA

Seventh dissident released from prison

HAVANA — Cuba released journalist Jorge Olivera Castillo yesterday, the seventh jailed dissident freed since Nov. 29, opposition sources told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Olivera, 43, was arrested in March 2003 with 74 others who opposed President Fidel Castro’s government. “Olivera was released because his health is very delicate,” said Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, a prominent dissident who leads the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

He said other dissidents might be released in the next hours or days, but he did not expect a mass release. All the dissidents freed so far were sent home because of bad health.

Mr. Olivera is the 14th dissident released of the group arrested in March 2003. Other detainees were freed starting in April this year.

CANADA

U.S. deserter seeks refugee status

TORONTO — A former U.S. Army paratrooper was seeking refugee status yesterday before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

After serving in Afghanistan, Jeremy Hinzman, 26, deserted the 82nd Airborne Division when it was ordered to Iraq last year, having been denied conscientious-objector status when he contended that the Iraq war is illegal because it was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council.

The odds of a decision favorable to the American were slim because refugee status has never been granted to a U.S. soldier seeking refuge in Canada, Agence France-Presse said. Presiding board member Brian Goodman ruled earlier this year that whether the Iraq war is legal has no bearing on such cases. The hearing was expected to last three days.

Weekly notes

Indian and peasant organizations promising better access to health care and education won every major Bolivian city in local elections Sunday, trouncing long-dominant parties in a reshuffling of the political map in South America’s poorest country, unofficial results show. The Electoral Court did not issue official results, saying it has until Dec. 31 to do so, but unofficial results by Equipos Mori, a respected opinion pollster, said established parties failed to win a single large city. … Rural violence over land reform has risen since Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assumed office last year, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported yesterday. A study by the Brazilian Catholic Church’s Land Pastoral Commission found that 73 persons have been killed in conflicts involving agrarian reformers, land owners and authorities, the highest number in one year since 1996.

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