- Associated Press - Sunday, July 18, 2010

MADRID (AP) — Nine more Cuban political prisoners will fly this week to freedom in Spain along with about 50 of their relatives, Spain’s foreign minister said.

The freed dissidents are to arrive Tuesday, joining 11 others recently released and now in Spain, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.

The 20 Cuban dissidents being released are part of the Castro regime’s commitment to free 52 imprisoned since 2003 under an agreement with the Spanish government and the Catholic Church.

Mr. Moratinos said his government expected “hundreds” of people eventually to arrive in Spain from Cuba, thanks to the agreement reached with the Caribbean island’s communist government.

He did not identify the prisoners but said all were traveling of their own free will. “They are all coming to Spain because they want to — it is important to say that,” Mr. Moratinos said. “No one is coming to Spain against their will.”

The foreign minister said the freed dissidents would be issued Spanish work and residency permits within three to four months, and asked that Spaniards and Cubans show understanding about the slow nature of bureaucracy.

“I’m not asking for gratitude, but for a bit of understanding by all those who have received a commitment from this government and all of Spanish society to help them in this new phase in their lives,” he said.

Mr. Moratinos spoke during a visit to Kazakhstan in an interview broadcast on Cadena Ser’s website Sunday.


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