By Daniel Trotta and Daniel Wallis
HAVANA, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Cuba freed some leading dissidents on Wednesday after holding them overnight to thwart an unauthorized demonstration in a crackdown that has tested its detente with the United States.
Police detained several dissidents on Tuesday and kept others under virtual house arrest ahead of an open microphone protest that was to have taken place outside government headquarters in Havana’s Revolution Square.
The detentions were typical of how Cuba breaks up opposition protests but took on greater significance as they came just two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Dec. 17 they would restore diplomatic ties and end decades of hostility.
Reinaldo Escobar, the husband of prominent dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, was released late on Tuesday night.
Tania Bruguera, a performance artist who organized the event and was held for more than 24 hours, was returned home on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m not doing this as a dissident, I’m doing it as a normal person,” she told Reuters from her mother’s apartment overlooking the sea in her first interview after being freed.
“I’m not a counterrevolutionary, like they say. I’m from a revolutionary family. … I’m going to continue the project.”
Cuba’s communist government had labeled the event a “political provocation” and denied Bruguera a permit.
The dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said more than 50 Cubans were detained and that about 15 of them were still being held on Wednesday afternoon.
“At the same the Cuban government is normalizing its relations with the U.S. government, it has not decided to normalize relations with the people of Cuba,” said Elizardo Sanchez, who heads the commission.
“We don’t think there will a cause-and-effect relationship between renewing diplomatic relations with the United States and an improvement of human rights in Cuba.” …read more
Source: More Fitness