By VANESSA ARRINGTON | Associated Press Writer
The Cuban government has confiscated the land where an unprecedented gathering of Cuban dissidents took place earlier this year, an activist said Friday.
Felix Bonne and his wife, who hosted the gathering on a lot next to their home, received a letter Thursday signed by an official from the agriculture ministry, said Martha Beatriz Roque, who also helped organize the gathering. The letter said the land was not being used sufficiently, Roque said.
“We feel even more repressed, more crushed, than usual,” Roque told The Associated Press. “But we are not going to back off, not one millimeter.”
According to Roque, Bonne’s family will be allowed to continue living in their house next to the lot.
Bonne, who does not have a telephone, was not immediately available for comment, nor were government officials.
Many were surprised that the communist government had allowed the gathering to take place, and activists predicted punishment would come later, when there was less global attention on the event.
“With (this latest action) they want to show that everything belongs to the state, to Fidel Castro,” Roque said. “I have no doubt that this is about May 20. It’s an act of repression, at a time when the government is being very repressive.”
In a speech on July 26 marking the anniversary of the start of his revolution, the Cuban president called the dissidents “traitors” and “mercenaries,” and defended the recent detentions of dozens of activists and counter-protests by government supporters.
Last month, 33 dissidents planning a protest outside the French Embassy in Havana were detained in a police roundup.
In March 2003, the Cuban government arrested 75 independent journalists, opposition politicians, rights activists and others, accusing them of receiving U.S. aid to overthrow Castro’s government and sentencing them to long prison terms.
U.S. authorities have repeatedly rejected charges that it pays dissidents to help undermine Castro’s rule.