Cuba briefly ar­rests 90 dis­si­dents dur­ing rights demon­stra­tion

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

With tense bi­lat­eral ties re­cently re­newed af­ter five decades, and top U. S. diplo­mat John Kerry due in Ha­vana in days, Cuba briefly de­tained about 90 ac­tivists on Sun­day.

Cuban se­cu­rity forces rounded up about 50 protesters with the Ladies in White dis­si­dent group and around 40 other ac­tivists, some wear­ing masks with the im­age of U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, ac­cord­ing to an AFP re­porter.

All 90 were re­leased af­ter four and a half hours in cus­tody, ac­cord­ing to the leader of Ladies in White, Berta Soler.

Ear­lier at the march, pro­tester An­gel Moya — Soler’s hus­band — slammed Obama, and said the De­cem­ber an­nounce­ment to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions be­tween the for­mer Cold war foes had bol­stered Ha­vana’s crack­down on dis­si­dents.

“It’s his fault, what is hap­pen­ing,” said Moya, a for­mer po­lit­i­cal pris­oner, speak­ing about Obama.

“The Cuban gov­ern­ment has grown even bolder,” he added be­fore be­ing de­tained.

“That’s why we have this mask on. Be­cause it’s his fault,” he said.

Uni­formed po­lice and plain­clothes of­fi­cers were on hand at the in­ci­dent in Ha­vana’s up­scale Mi­ra­mar dis­trict.

When marchers who were not ar­rested started to leave, pro­gov­ern­ment ac­tivists chanted “down with the pack of worms.”

Kerry will be in Ha­vana Fri­day for the cer­e­mo­nial in­au­gu­ra­tion of the newly re­opened U.S. em­bassy. On July 20, the coun­tries of­fi­cially re­opened em­bassies in their re­spec­tive cap­i­tals.

Soler said she hopes Kerry would meet with dis­si­dent groups and mem­bers of non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions dur­ing the visit.

She said she also wants Kerry to pres­sure Ha­vana to re­spect hu­man rights in the coun­try, where free­dom of assem­bly and free­dom of the press have been crit­i­cized.

Washington should “give the Cuban gov­ern­ment some con­di­tions to get it to stop vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights,” Soler told AFP.

Kerry will be the first U.S. sec­re­tary of state to visit Cuba since 1945, seal­ing what will be a ma­jor for­eign pol­icy legacy of Obama’s eight-year ten­ure.

Cuba is the only one- party Com­mu­nist-ruled na­tion in the Amer­i­cas.

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