Arrests, Suppression of Civil Rights Greet Obama in Cuba
(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday President Obama stood beside Cuba’s dictator Raúl Castro to declare a “turn of page” between the two countries. With little evidence that progress has been made towards expanding economic and individual liberties on the island, Castro still brought a list of demands for the U.S. As in the past, Cuba’s regime continues to arrest non-violent dissidents and protesters in an attempt to silence disagreement and prevent embarrassment on the international stage, with many still fearing for their safety and others risking their lives to escape the oppressive regime. When President Obama announced a change in policy toward Cuba 15 months ago, he said that “no Cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they’re exercising a universal right to have their voices heard.” Unfortunately, little has changed.
Jorge Lima, Vice President of Operations and Policy for The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
"So far we have seen that this 'new' approach has done little to change and reform the island’s dictatorship. The positions of the Castro brothers have not changed – in fact they remain committed to denying even the most fundamental liberties, causing outcries from those brave enough to speak out. Freedom of speech, the bedrock of any free society, is consistently denied in Cuba. And while this week the White House celebrates a historic visit to Cuba, the Cuban people are no closer to attaining basic human rights. What message does it send to those fighting for liberty in Cuba and abroad when the leader of the free world is smiling and shaking hands with their oppressor?”