HAVANA - The U.S. government denied a visa to moderate Cuban dissident Dimas Castellanos, despite U.S. policies that encourage links between the United States and Cubans opposed to Fidel Castro’s communist government.
The opposition group Arco Progresista, to which Castellanos belongs, said Tuesday that the United States was targeting moderate dissidents who criticize U.S. policy as well as the Cuban government.
The U.S. Interests Section in Havana confirmed that Castellanos’ visa request was denied, but issued a statement saying that “support or nonsupport for U.S. policy is not a litmus test for receiving a U.S. visa.”
It declined say why the visa was denied, citing confidentiality rules.
“Our long-standing policy is to provide uncensored information to Cubans,” the statement continued. “We have provided informational materials to supporters of Arco Progresista, despite this organization’s well-known disagreement with U.S. policy.”
Castellanos, whom Arco Progresista described as a “prominent, social-democratic thinker,” was invited to participate in a conference at the Institute of Cuban Studies in Miami at the end of June.
“What’s puzzling about the denial is that it comes from a government that says it supports the promotion of human rights, the exercise of personal liberties ... and the democratization of Cuba,” Arco Progresista said in a statement.
Seventy-five Cuban dissidents accused of working with U.S. diplomats to undermine the island’s government were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in a crackdown last year. Two have since been released for health reasons.