HAVANA — A Cuban dissident vowed Sunday to keep up his political activism and predicted a chaotic future if the country does not further embrace free-market reform.
Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, a 68-year-old economist, was freed on parole Saturday night — the first of a group of prisoners who had refused to go into exile if released.
By Sunday, he was the star attraction at a weekly march of the Damas de Blanco, or Ladies in White, a dissident group made up of the wives and mothers of 75 activists, social commentators and opposition leaders including Ramos who were jailed following a 2003 crackdown on peaceful dissent.
After a meeting with President Raul Castro on July 7, Havana Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega announced that 52 dissidents still in prison would be let go over the course of four months. Thirty-nine of the men were freed and sent into exile in Spain, but progress stalled as most of the last 13 refused to leave the island.
He said he was not impressed by the reforms Raul Castro had announced in recent months, which include firing a half-million state workers while offering citizens increased opportunities to work for themselves, set up businesses and even hire employees.