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Posted July 23, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Human Rights

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By Vanessa Bauza | Sun-Sentinel

Cuban authorities on Friday detained at least 20 opposition activists, including three prominent dissident leaders, who had organized a demonstration for the freedom of political prisoners, relatives and human rights monitors in Havana said.

Also Friday, government supporters prevented several other dissidents from leaving their homes to participate in the demonstration at the French embassy.
Among those detained by state security agents were Martha Beatriz Roque, Felix Bonne, and Rene Gomez, said veteran human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez.

Roque, Bonne and Gomez are all former political prisoners and close collaborators who head a dissident coalition known as the Assembly to Promote Civil Society. In May they held a landmark opposition meeting, which drew 150 dissidents.

Assembly members on Friday scheduled a demonstration at the French embassy in Havana to call for the release of political prisoners. Gomez was not planning to be there, but Roque and Bonne were. They never arrived.

Roque’s friend and houseguest, Yarai Reyes, said Roque went missing after leaving home on Friday morning.

“I haven’t had any news of her. I am worried because she is like disappeared,’’ Reyes said.

It was impossible to confirm whether any of the opposition leaders were temporarily detained for questioning or arrested.

Groups of government supporters gathered outside the homes of at least three dissidents in different neighborhoods to prevent them from attending the planned demonstration.

In the Havana neighborhood of Vedado about 30 government supporters stood on the sidewalk outside the home of dissident Leon Padron Azcuy and noisily accused him of being a mercenary paid by the U.S. government to subvert Cuba’s socialist system. Cuban dissidents and the U.S. government deny the charge.

They shouted “down with the mercenary,’’ as Padron looked on from his third floor balcony.

“This revolution is of the Cubans, we defend it in the streets,’’ neighbor and government supporter Jorge Fernandez, 43, shouted. Others sang the Cuban national anthem.

Friday’s actions continue a wave of government detentions meant to squelch public dissident demonstrations.

On July 13, about 30 dissidents were detained after congregating at Havana’s seawall to commemorate the deaths of 41Cubans killed in 1994 when Cuban patrol boats sprayed water hoses and rammed their stolen tugboat as they tried to flee the island. The dissidents clashed against a larger group of government supporters who pushed and shoved them, deriding them as “worms’’ and “mercenaries.’‘

Six dissidents, who are still being held, will be charged with disturbing the peace, Sanchez said. ___

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 23, 2005 by I-taoist with 213 total posts

    Once again we see that U.S. sponsorship of this faction of the dissident movement inside Cuba weakens them and strengthens the position of the government of Castro.  In this chessgame it is quite easy for the government to tar these individuals as being collaborators of “imperialism, blockade and separation of families by U.S. decree.”  It is why Oswaldo Paya and other leading dissidents have rejected this group.  Sadly, in becoming bedfellows with Cason and company in the U.S. interests section, this group negates any real effect they may have for the good.  Their avowed support of the continuing embargo, monetary aid and travel restrictions further weakens their support among average Cubans. Thus, for the Castro government, it is like playing chess with a petulant child who knows little of the subtleties of the game.   

  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 23, 2005 by PABLOPUEBLO with 86 total posts

    Mr Taoist the chessgame is in a very much stalemate and that
    is very bad for Castro and he knows that.The real dissidence
    nowadays in Cuba is the blackouts which last 12to 18 hours,
    the lack of vital foods,and everything after Castro promising
    elctric rice cooker and ohter electric appliances for the
    struggled cuban people,as a cuban it is embarrassing to me to
    see what deep is the economical troubles in my Land.Let’ go
    out now from political manouvers and stop playing around,just
    let’ say to the cuban government that they have to talk the
    talk now and solve the electric problem in Cuba.

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