Cuba Arrests Free Speech Activists; Obama State Department “Concerned”

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(Image Sunrise In Havana)

Only a week after President Obama’s controversial announcement detailing the process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, the Cuban Communist regime does what Communist regimes do…arrest innocent people for trying to be free.

The Miami Herald reports that Cuban authorities arrested activists who were planning a free speech event where Cuban citizens could voice their opinion as to what the future of Cuba should entail:

“Cuban authorities arrested dissidents, independent journalists and a well-known artist Tuesday in an apparent attempt to block a rally in Havana’s revolutionary square organized by a new movement that calls itself #YoTambienExijo (I also demand).

“Among those detained were journalist Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the online 14ymedio publication and husband of prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez; Eliecer Ávila, an activist; and Antonio Rodiles, who directs a human rights group called Estado de Sats. Sánchez, who founded 14ymedio, reported the arrests on Twitter.

“Sánchez said she was placed under house arrest and also reported that several other 14ymedio contributors were visited by State Security officers and warned not to cover the event, which was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Plaza de la Revolución.

“The demonstration called for participants to go before a microphone for one minute to share their thoughts, concerns or ideas about how Cuba’s future should unfold.”

In response to President Obama’s new friend, Raul Castro’s actions, the U.S. State Department released a statement condemning the arrests while stating that the Obama administration was “concerned”:

 “We are deeply concerned about the latest reports of detentions and arrests by Cuban authorities of peaceful civil society members and activists, including Luis Quintana Rodriguez, Antonio Rodiles, Danilo Maldonado, Reinaldo Escobar, Marcelino Abreu Bonora and Eliecer Avila. 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.

“Freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are internationally recognized human rights, and the Cuban government’s lack of respect for these rights, as demonstrated by today’s detentions, is inconsistent with Hemispheric norms and commitments. 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.”

Ironically, while the U.S. State Department is quick to condemn the Cuban government’s continued use of harassment to silence critics, the silence from the U.S. Government is deafening as it pertains to the Obama Administration’s use of the I.R.S. to silence its own.


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