“An affront to democracy”: Cuba’s launches fresh crackdown on activists


Cuba’s Communist regime has launched a fresh crackdown on the island’s democracy activists, reports suggest.

At least eight houses were occupied by more than 200 military personnel bearing assault weapons and extensive searches conducted in each home. All of those affected are promoters of the Cuba Decide citizen’s initiative led by Rosa María Payá and members of UNPACU (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, led by José Daniel Ferrer), the Center for a Free Cuba reports:

All are actively working on a national and international campaign denouncing the illegitimacy of the ongoing process of constitutional reform. Furthermore, they are campaigning for the “NO” in the constitutional referendum to be held on February 24th in Cuba. The constitutional process does not fulfill any of the international requirements to be free and credible.

Cuba remains a one-party authoritarian state with a poor human rights record, according to a recent analysis from the Congressional Research Service.

Expectations that a generational change in leadership from Raul Castro to President Miguel Díaz-Canel have diminished, the report suggests. The new incumbent has “backtracked on implementing regulations that likely would have shrunk the private sector, and he slowed down implementation of a controversial decree regulating artistic expression, actions that appeared to demonstrate his responsiveness to public criticism and concerns and his independence from the previous Castro government.”

“Looking ahead, President Díaz-Canel continues to faces two significant challenges—moving forward with economic reforms that produce results and responding to desires for greater freedom,” the CRS notes.

Since 1996, the United States has provided assistance—through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—to increase the flow of information on democracy, human rights, and free enterprise to Cuba, the CRS adds. U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations share “the goals of promoting a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy, helping to develop civil society, and building solidarity with Cuba’s human rights activists,” it notes.

The United States says Cuba is jailing 130 political prisoners in a “blatant affront” to fundamental democratic freedoms. The administration launched a campaign last fall at the United Nations called “Jailed for What?” holding Cuba‘s regime responsible for human rights violations, the Associated Press reports:

Kelley E. Currie, the U.S. representative on the U.N. Economic and Social Council, plans to focus on an estimated 130 Cuban prisoners as “an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the Cuban regime,” said a statement released by the U.S. State Department last week. Those being held “represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support,” it said….

About 20 Cuban diplomats and supporters disrupted a U.N. meeting called to spotlight the island nation‘s political prisoners, loudly banging on tables and shouting in Spanish, “Cuba, yes! U.S. blockade, no!” AP adds:

Among the speakers at the session were Secretary General Luis Almagro of the Organization of American States, Executive Director Carlos Quesada of the Institute of Race and Equality and former Cuban political prisoner Alejandro Gonzalez Raga. The sister of political prisoner Eduardo Cardet Concepcion spoke by video. … Almagro highlighted “the role that Cuba plays in destabilization in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

“Therefore, we feel that it is important to shine a light on a regime that is undermining peace and security across Latin America as well as persecuting its citizens at home,” Currie said.

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