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Talks of Raul Castro with Catholic Church mark the start of a “new time” for Cuba.

Manuel Cuesta Morúa - Photo Credit:Dalia Acosta/IPS

HAVANA, Jun 4, 2010  – One of Cuba’s most prominent moderate dissidents, historian Manuel Cuesta Morúa, says the recent talks between Catholic Church leaders and the government of Raúl Castro mark the start of a “new time” for the country.

In this interview with IPS, Cuesta Morúa, spokesman for the Arco Progresista, a social democratic dissident movement, discusses the significance of the Church’s mediation efforts, which led to the relocation of six prisoners from provincial jails to facilities closer to their homes on Tuesday, Jun. 1.

The six form part of the original group of 75 dissidents handed lengthy sentences in 2003 on charges of treason for conspiring with the United States to destabilise the government, 53 of whom are still in prison. (The others were released on parole for health reasons.)

Observers say the relocation of the prisoners could be a first step in a process that could lead to the release of at least the remaining imprisoned dissidents who have health problems.

Cuba’s dissident organisations are illegal but tolerated to varying extents by the government, which sees them as small groups with no social base that only exist due to logistical and financial support from the United States.

Q: Beyond the fact that talks between the Catholic Church and the Cuban government are a dialogue “among Cubans” to address a problem that involves the political opposition, how do you see this development in terms of the recent history of the country?

A: This is the start of a new time for Cuba. Perhaps it is hard for us to see the forest for the trees, as we are in the midst of what is going on. But I believe we are looking at a new forest, one that all Cubans, through different routes, are entering and rediscovering.

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