Cuba: Hundreds Arrested Ahead of Obama's Visit
In response to the arrest of more than 300 dissidents in the days prior to President Obama’s visit to Cuba, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"It is clear that Cubans lack the freedom of speech and the right to peaceful opposition. The Cuban government continues to criminalize dissent by detaining activists and holding political prisoners," said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin American and Caribbean programs. "To hear the voice of the Cuban people, President Obama must meet with dissidents and truly independent civil society, and not only with moderate leaders or with government-supported NGOs."
The crackdown on Cuban opposition leaders began over the weekend and has continued into the days of President Obama's visit. The slew of arrests included Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White, and her husband Angel Moya; head of the Foro de los Derechos y Libertades Antonio Rodiles and his wife Maria Gonzalez Mena; and Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, whose wife and daughters were subsequently placed under house arrest.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.