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Martha Beatriz Roque, Cuba Dissident, Launches Hunger Strike

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Cuban opposition leader and former prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque is seen outside the entrance to the Spanish Embassy Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005 in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jose Goitia)
Cuban opposition leader and former prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque is seen outside the entrance to the Spanish Embassy Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005 in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jose Goitia)

HAVANA -- A prominent Cuban dissident has declared a hunger strike and says 12 other opposition members are joining her.

Martha Beatriz Roque is a state-trained economist and longtime Havana dissident, and she says that she and the others stopped eating Monday. The 67-year-old Roque suffers from diabetes and says she will drink water but not eat during the protest.

Among their demands is that Cuba's government free a little-known opposition member, Jorge Vazquez. They say he is serving a jail term for a minor, non-political crime and ought to have been freed Sunday.

The government has not commented. It dismisses the opposition as common criminals and paid stooges of Washington.

Roque was among 75 prominent intellectuals and social critics jailed in 2003. She was granted conditional release the following year.

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