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Latest group of former Cuban political prisoners arrives in Spain

By Al Goodman, CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
Cuban dissident Orlando Fundora, who was arrested in 2003, gives the thumbs up as he leaves Madrid's Barajas airport Friday.
Cuban dissident Orlando Fundora, who was arrested in 2003, gives the thumbs up as he leaves Madrid's Barajas airport Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Latest group includes 37 former Cuban political prisoners and their relatives
  • They are the last of a group of political prisoners whose release was negotiated last year
  • They boarded buses headed for 15 destinations around Spain
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Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- A total of 37 former Cuban political prisoners landed in Madrid on Friday from Havana, boosting to 115 the number of former Cuban prisoners who have come to Spain since last July, a Spanish Foreign Ministry statement said.

The latest group includes Cuban dissident Orlando Fundora, arrested in 2003 among a well-known group of 75 dissidents. He was released later and has now decided to seek medical help in Madrid, said a Foreign Ministry diplomat, who by custom is not named.

The other 36 released this week include dissident Nestor Rodriguez, the diplomat said.

The latest arrivals are the last of a group of political prisoners whose release was negotiated last year among the Cuban and Spanish governments and the Cuban Catholic church, the statement said.

Since July 2010, a total of 115 former Cuban prisoners and 647 of their relatives have arrived in Spain, the statement said.

On Friday, the plane chartered by the Spanish government landed at 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) at Madrid's Barajas airport and carried the 37 former prisoners and 208 of their relatives.

There was no news conference at the airport. Instead, non-governmental organizations that have helped the former prisoners with lodging boarded almost all of them and their families onto buses which headed to 15 destinations across Spain, including Barcelona and Malaga, the diplomat said.

Centers in Madrid are already at capacity with other former prisoners, the diplomat said, and that's why most of the latest arrivals were sent elsewhere.