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Cuba Frees Four Opposition Figures

January 26, 2000

HAVANA (AP) _ Cuban police freed at least four opposition figures after detaining them for most of a day, warning them against trying to form a coordinated movement, one of the men said Wednesday.

Hector Palacios said the detentions seemed aimed at preventing a meeting of about 18 opposition figures planned at his house. The people had planned to discuss how they might act on an opposition document issued Nov. 12, Palacios said.

That document, titled ``All United,″ urged Cubans to peacefully work for greater civil, social and economic rights, including political pluralism and the right to own businesses. All of Cuba’s opposition groups are small, and any efforts to expand them are hindered by the government.

Palacios said he was told ``that we are not authorized to take any action that implies coordination among opposition groups, that implies meetings, that we can think what we want as individuals but we cannot express what we want to others.″

Palacios and at least three other opposition figures were detained by police Tuesday morning, questioned at a police facility, then released in the afternoon or evening. Palacios said he was held from 6 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

Two other dissidents were either restricted to their homes or summoned to appear at a police station later, according to Elizardo Sanchez, a human rights activist who tracks arrests of possible political prisoners.

The best-known of those affected by Tuesday’s actions were Palacios, head of the Democratic Solidarity Party, and Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, head of the Christian Liberation Movement. Both met last year with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and with Illinois Gov. George Ryan, and complained that the Cuban government does not allow them freedom of speech or assembly.

Also detained were Palacios’ wife, Gisela Delgado, who heads a feminist organization, and Jose Antonio Bridon, involved in a Christian labor group.

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