A reminder that as our President makes nice with the jailers who run it, Cuba is a vast island prison:
Pérez was among more than 200 arrested yesterday, according to Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) leader José Daniel Ferrer, who attested to the arrest of 209 members of his group in Oriente, the eastern end of Cuba. In contrast, the Cuban government arrested about 250 dissidents throughout the entirety of Pope Francis’ visit in September.
In addition to those taken to jail, at least one is being held under house arrest without charge. The man: Zaqueo Báez, who made international headlines in September for daring to approach Pope Francis’ vehicle in Havana and say the word “freedom” within earshot of the pontiff. Báez was beaten severely in front of the pope and taken to prison, facing criminal charges for disturbing the peace. Pope Francis later denied any knowledge of the incident despite his proximity to it.
The Cuban dissident community has loudly opposed President Obama’s visit, arguing that his presence on the island would embolden the Cuban government to act more violently against pro-democracy activists. “These sorts of visits bring a lot of collateral damage,” dissident Marta Beatriz Roque said in February.
Studies of Castro regime behavior following President Obama’s announcement in December 2017 that he would be establishing diplomatic ties with the Castro dictatorship show that Havana has become more oppressive and violent against those who demand to live in a democratic society. “There has been no substantial improvement in regard to human rights and individual freedoms on the island… [The Cuban government] has adapted its repressive methods in order to make them invisible to the scrutinizing, judgmental eyes of the international community, but it has not reduced the level of pressure or control over the opposition,” a report by the Czech NGO People in Need concluded in December.
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