Cuba deadline to free political prisoners passes

November 8, 2010 07:45

HAVANA — The wives and mothers of Cuba's most prominent political prisoners marched through the leafy streets of the capital Sunday, but their demands that the government honor an agreement to release their loved ones by the end of the day went unheeded.

The deadline passed at midnight without any word on the men's fate, setting up a standoff between President Raul Castro and the island's small but vocal opposition community. One dissident vowed to start a hunger strike later Monday if the 13 prisoners are not in their homes, and a human rights leader warned the government was playing with fire.

"To not release them would be fatal to the promise given to the Church, and a fraud against the international community," Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said hours ahead of the deadline.

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