WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States says it’s “deeply concerned” about the latest reports of detentions and arrests by Cuban authorities of civil society members and activists.
Last week, the State Department said the activists included Luis Quintana Rodriguez, Antonio Rodiles, Danilo Maldonado, Reinaldo Escobar, Marcelino Abreu Bonora and Eliecer Avila.
“We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s continued harassment and repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom expression, and intimidate citizens,” said Jeff Rathke, director of the Bureau of Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of State. “Freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are internationally recognized human rights, and the Cuban government’s lack of respect for these rights, as demonstrated by (the) detentions, is inconsistent with Hemispheric norms and commitments. We urge the Government of Cuba to end its practice of repressing these and other internationally protected freedoms and to respect the universal human rights of Cuban citizens.”
The arrests were the most sweeping roundup of dissidents since the United States and Cuba said they would normalize diplomatic relations and President Barack Obama moved to loosen several trade and travel restrictions associated with the five-decade economic embargo.
Last week, The New York Times noted that President Raul Castro said that Cuba’s political system, which limits freedom of expression, will not change despite the historic announcement by President Obama.