It is one of those Cuban ironies we have witnessed time and time again and one that is for the most part, completely lost on or more likely, willfully ignored by the press and other world leaders. As Cuban dictator Raul Castro called on Latin American leaders attending the CELAC summit to treat their citizens better, the notoriously brutal, Stasi-trained State Security forces of the apartheid Castro dictatorship violently quashed an opposition protest outside the event.
Cuba challenges neighbors on poverty, then faces own critics
(Reuters) – Cuban President Raul Castro challenged Latin American leaders to show the political will to improve health care and education, then heard from his own critics after Cuban authorities stifled a protest outside the confines of a regional summit.
Castro’s speech also listed a series of Latin American grievances that directly or indirectly involve the United States, attempting to unify the 33 countries at the summit against their neighbor to the north, which was not invited.
“We have every possibility to abolish illiteracy,” Castro told leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). “We should have the political will to do it.”
While Castro advised fellow leaders on how to manage their economies, Cuban dissidents and the United States admonished the Cubans for thwarting a protest.
Cuban dissidents were expected to raise issues of human rights at an ad hoc democracy forum at a park in central Havana, but were apparently foiled after complaining that Cuban authorities detained at least 40 activists in recent days as a part of a campaign of harassment before the summit.
With dissidents blocked from leaving their homes, only a smattering of state security agents were present where the forum was to have taken place.
“Critical voices are silenced during the CELAC summit: arrests, threats, mobiles cut,” tweeted dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.
Amnesty International criticized Cuba on Monday for its “campaign of repression against opponents and dissidents” and demanded they be allowed to demonstrate during the summit.
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday condemned reports of harassment and arrests of activists.
“Our message to world leaders visiting: meet with everyday Cubans and independent civil society to learn what’s really happening and support democratic change,” Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.
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