(updates with end of hunger strike)


Cuban dissident Jorge Cervantes, who has been in police custody since Aug. 22, ended the hunger strike he has been pursuing for 13 days to demand his release, his mother told Efe on Tuesday.

"The family asked him for the favor of suspending the (hunger) strike because he would be one more casualty," Alba Verdecia said by telephone from her house in Las Tunas, 690 kilometers (428 miles) east of Havana.

Verdecia said she and Jorge's wife, Kenia Leguen, met with her son on Tuesday morning at the provincial hospital in Las Tunas, where he was admitted last Wednesday.

"As a mother, I was very disturbed and nervous. He has done several (hunger) strikes and his organs are deteriorating. At our request, we insisted so much, and so he stopped it, although he didn't want to do so," she added.

"We saw him drink a juice about 10 in the morning, and we brought his children to him. Nobody (in the family) had seen him up to today," she said.

Verdecia said authorities told her that "each day (Cervantes) could be visited by relatives and they told us that we would have to promise that other people besides ourselves would not visit him."

Cervantes, 42, was arrested while participating in activities undertaken by the Patriotic Union of Cuba dissident group.

In a report released Tuesday, the opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said it had registered at least 521 arbitrary arrests for political reasons during August, which is more than double the number documented during the same month last year.

The Cuban government takes the position that dissidents are counterrevolutionaries and "mercenaries" in the service of the United States. EFE