Cuba frees political prisoner following talks with Catholic Church

ppmamberti290808 Vatican's foreign Minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti

An emaciated, political prisoner in Cuba was recently freed after what has been reported as unprecedented talks between President Raul Castro and Catholic Church officials.

Ariel Sigler Amaya, a 46-year-old dissident was arrested in 2003 with 74 other protestors for what the local Communist government viewed as treason. Sigler became a paraplegic while in prison and now weighs 106 lbs.

News agencies are attributing Sigler's release with talks between Church officials and the Cuban government as well as the upcoming visit of the Vatican's foreign Minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who will travel to Havana within days.

During talks with Cardinal Jaime Ortega on Saturday, who leads the Archdiocese of Havana, government officials said they would release Sigler who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The talks, which commenced May 19,  have taken place as part an effort to end a hunger strike from the dissenters.

Though the prisoner's family is thrilled at his release, Sigler told the Agence France Presse (AFP) that he is torn.

“Emotionally, I have mixed feelings, both joy and pain, because there are so many (dissident) brothers still jailed.”

The AFP reported that six other political prisoners have been transferred from jails to their homes on Saturday in what have been considered concessions by the Cuban government.

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