Freed paraplegic dissident vows 'freedom, democracy' for Cuba
AFP: Freed paraplegic dissident vows 'freedom, democracy' for Cuba
By Rigoberto Diaz and Isabel Sanchez (AFP)
June 12, 2010
Ariel Sigler shows his emaciated body upon his release from prison
MATANZAS, Cuba — A frail, paraplegic political prisoner freed after landmark talks between the Catholic Church and President Raul Castro vowed Saturday to push hard to win "freedom and democracy" for Cuba.
Ariel Sigler Amaya, 46, had been in prison for more than six years. He was part of a group of 73 political dissidents picked up in a broad crackdown by the communist government in March 2003.
"The story does not end here. We are going to press on in the struggle, until the last political prisoner has been freed, until we achieve freedom and democracy for the Cuban people," Sigler Amaya, frail and seated in a wheelchair he began using two years ago, told AFP.
Sigler Amaya, who heads the Independent Alternative Option Movement (MIOA) -- an outlawed political group in the western province of Matanzas -- has faced a series of chronic illnesses and has been in a wheelchair since September 2008.
Surrounded by elated relatives, Sigler Amaya said he was released thanks to pressure from the international community, and not the will of the Americas' only one-party communist regime.