Wednesday, October 12, 2005
PARIS, France (AFP): France’s foreign minister told his Cuban counterpart during a meeting here on Tuesday that Cuba must release its political prisoners.
“The meeting was exclusively about the human rights situation in Cuba,” said a French foreign ministry statement.
“The minister (Philippe Douste-Blazy) reiterated our position and demanded the release of political prisoners in Cuba,” it said.
There are 336 political prisoners in Cuba, according to the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which is banned by Havana’s communist regime.
The Cuban foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, for his part “repeated his government’s traditional position on this point,” the statement said, adding that the two ministers “noted their disagreement.”
The European Union sanctioned Cuba in 2003 after the regime arrested 75 dissidents in a crackdown in May of that year, but Brussels temporarily suspended the penalties this year and re-established political dialogue with Havana.
The CCDHRN says 30 dissidents have been arrested in Cuba since July in what it calls “a new wave of repression.”
Cuba has defied over 40 years of US sanctions aimed at ousting President Fidel Castro, who runs the one-party state by controlling most aspects of Cuban life through the communist party.