Leading Cuban dissident hospitalized

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A leading Cuban dissident who was once a state-economist has been hospitalized for 10 days with serious liver problems, but his wife said Monday he was responding positively to treatment.

Oscar Espinosa Chepe has been on an intravenous drip at a Havana hospital for more than a week and unable to even drink liquids until Monday morning, his wife Miriam Leiva, herself a leading dissident, told The Associated Press.

"I can't say he is out of danger or that he will recover, but his symptoms are improving and things are a little bit better," Leiva said, describing her husband's condition as "delicate."

Chepe, 71, has suffered from cirrhosis for more than a decade, a condition that worsened when he was a political prisoner from 2003 to 2004, Leiva said. But she said his current illness appears to be a separate liver ailment.

Chepe has frequently criticized free market economic changes undertaken by President Raul Castro, which he says do not go far enough.

The island's small opposition community is already reeling from the death of two leading voices in less than a year. Veteran dissident Oswaldo Paya was killed in a car accident in July, and Ladies in White founder Laura Pollan died of heart failure in October 2011.