A half-dozen more Cuban political prisoners will soon be released, according to the Catholic Church.

Cuba's Catholic Church on Tuesday said six more political prisoners will be freed and go to Spain, but concern was growing over the fate of 10 others who want to stay and the fresh arrests of eight dissidents.

The church identified the six as Víctor Arroyo, 57, serving a 26-year sentence; Alexis Rodríguez, 40, serving 15 years; Leonel Grave de Peralta, 34, serving 20 years; Alfredo Domínguez, 48, serving 14; Próspero Gainza, 53, serving 25; and Claro Sánchez, 56, serving 15.

An additional 26 already have been released and gone to Spain under an unprecedented agreement between the government and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega to free at least 52 political prisoners by the end of October.

The 52 were the last still in jail from a group of 75 rounded up in a 2003 crackdown. One wheelchair-using prisoner, Ariel Sigler Amaya, was freed and came to Miami for medical treatment.

But the government has remained silent on the 10 prisoners vowing to stay in Cuba if freed, said Berta Soler, spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, relatives of the 75. Her husband is serving a 20-year sentence.

Soler said some of the women met with Ortega last week and asked about the 10 as well as the two dozen among the 75 who were previously paroled for health reasons but technically remain under penal sanction.

``The government is aware of our questions, but gives no answers,'' she said by phone from Havana.

Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez said he suspects the government will keep the 10 in jail until the end of the process, hoping the extra prison time will make them change their minds.

``It shows the government's bad faith,'' he said.

Sánchez said he's also concerned about the eight dissidents detained this month and still in jail, a shift from the usual government tactic of briefly detaining critics. Only a few dissidents were brought to trial last year, he noted.

Brothers Nestor and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Enyor Diaz Allen, Francisco Manzanet Ortiz and Roberto Gonzáles Pelegrín were arrested Aug. 12 during a public protest in Cuba's easternmost town of Baracoa. They are under investigation for charges of public disorder.

Manzanet and González went on hunger strikes the day of their arrest and are now in a hospital in nearby Guantánamo, the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate said Tuesday. The Lobaina brothers joined the hunger strike Aug. 20 and remain in a Guantánamo jail.

Three other dissidents -- Michel Irois Rodríguez, Luis Enrique Labrador and Eduardo Pérez Flores -- have been held since Aug. 16, when they read an anti-government declaration from the steps of the University of Havana. Sanchez said he has received reports the three also have declared hunger strikes and could be charged with contempt.

South Florida Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of the three, saying they ``face the risk of long prison sentences.''

(Source: The Miami Herald.)

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