Cuba releases pro-life activist

WASHINGTON -- Cuba released a renowned pro-life activist and political dissident, but sent mixed signals the next day when courts sentenced an American contractor to 15 years in prison for taking telecommunications equipment into the country.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, 49, an activist first jailed in 1999 for denouncing Fidel Castro's abortion policies, was released from prison March 11, as announced by the Archdiocese of Havana, which has negotiated the release of 52 political prisoners since last summer. He was also among a group of 75 activists jailed in anti-government protests in 2003.

Upon his release, he told EFE, the Spanish news agency, that he intends to stay in Cuba.

"I've always lived in Cuba and I am of Cuba," he said. "I haven't ever harmed anybody, just given love, much love, and because of that I was harmed by the government."

In a teleconference from Havana March 14, Biscet signaled his intention to remain critical of the government, calling the Castro regime a "total dictatorship" that fears informed citizens.