By Daniel Trotta
HAVANA, Dec 31 (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday condemned what it called Cuba’s practice of repression following the detention of several activists, in the first major test of President Barack Obama’s policy shift toward normalizing relations with the communist-ruled island.
The State Department said it was deeply concerned by the detention on Tuesday of several “peaceful civil society members and activists” by the Cuban authorities.
“We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s continued harassment and repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom expression, and intimidate citizens,” the State Department said in a statement.
“We urge the government of Cuba to end its practice of repressing these and other internationally protected freedoms and to respect the universal human rights of Cuban citizens,” it added.
The arrests marked the most significant crackdown on the opposition since Cuba and the United States agreed on Dec. 17 to restore diplomatic ties and put behind them more than five decades of hostility.
About 12 opponents were taken away by police, including the husband of opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez, while several others were told not to leave their homes as police parked outside, said Elizardo Sanchez, leader of a dissident human rights commission that monitors such detentions.
Other dissident leaders reported multiple detentions or that activists were ordered to stay at home. Yoani Sanchez’s website 14ymedia.com reported she was under virtual house arrest.
The detentions stopped a planned open microphone event at Havana’s Revolution Square, near the government headquarters.
Event organizer Tania Bruguera, a performance artist, was missing and her associates presumed she, too, had been detained. Bruguera had vowed to go ahead with the event even after Cuban officials denied her a permit.
The event flopped, with only 15 participants, surrounded by a phalanx of reporters. A parallel event in Miami called by Cuban exiles drew 50 people. …read more
Source: More Fitness