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Released Cuban dissident to resume protests

Cuba has freed one of 13 political prisoners who refused to go into exile and will let him stay on the island, in a signal that they all may be released soon. Arnaldo Ramos said yesterday that he was in good shape after more than seven years in prison and planned to resume his opposition to the Communist government.

"I am in perfectly good condition and happy to be home," said the 68-year-old economist, who was released and allowed to return to his Havana home on Saturday. "I'm going to return to the same activities I did before." He said he would begin by attending the weekly protest march of the dissident group Ladies in White.

He was one of 75 dissidents arrested in a 2003 crackdown on government opponents and was serving an 18-year prison sentence.

In a deal brokered by the Catholic Church, Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in July to free the 52 who were then still behind bars.

But the government also wanted the jailed dissidents to leave the country and tried to convince them to go to exile in Spain. Spain has agreed to accept the former prisoners.

Thirty-nine accepted the offer, but the remaining 13, including Mr Ramos, refused to leave their country. His release was a concession by the government and probably signals that it has given up on getting the rest to go to Spain.