Leading Cuban Dissident Marta Beatriz Roque rakes the EU over the proverbial coals:
HAVANA, Cuba (AFP): Leading Cuban dissident Marta Beatriz Roque accused the European Union Sunday of giving tacit approval to the taking of political prisoners in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, after a new crackdown landed her in prison this weekend.
Roque said she was among some 30 dissidents who were detained Friday as the communist regime broke up a planned protest in front of the French embassy to chide France for its decision to normalize relations with Castro’s regime.
The 60-year-old economist, who was released early Saturday, said 14 people were released and 16 remained imprisoned. Roque had started a hunger strike as soon as she was taken in.
“The European Union must see its responsibility in this, because it is legitimizing the government, allowing it to have political prisoners,” she told AFP, vowing to continue anti-government protests despite the repression.
The EU sanctioned Cuba in 2003 after the regime arrested 75 dissidents in a crackdown in May of that year, but Brussels temporarily suspended the penalties this year and re-established political dialogue with Havana.
“Today we ask the Europeans: What have they resolved with dialogue? Where is the liberation of prisoners?” said Roque, who is president of the illegal Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society.
“This change in policy by the European Union won’t solve anything,” she said. She called for the Cuban government to free political prisoners.
The EU voiced deep concern Sunday over the latest clampdown on dissidents.
“The European Commission remains extremely concerned about the current political situation in Cuba,” it said in a statement from Brussels. “Recent events appear to show a clear hardening in the attitude of the government of Cuba.”
In re-establishing dialogue with Cuba, the EU also ordered a suspension of its practice of inviting Cuban dissidents to national celebrations, saying that instead a parallel dialogue should be established with the opposition.
But France went one step further, inviting Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque to the French embassy’s July 14 Bastille Day celebration, marking a normalization of bilateral relations.
Dissidents wanted to show their displeasure in front of the French embassy Friday, but only 15 people made it to the demonstration that also demanded the release of all political prisoners.
“With these detentions they seek to intimidate, divide, destabilize the opposition,” Roque said. “But we say to the government that we will continue protesting, not only in Havana, but in the entire country.”
The French Foreign Ministry said Sunday the French embassy immediately “demanded” that Havana free the people detained Friday. Paris also demanded the liberation of all political prisoners and respect for human rights.
The roundup of dissidents was the second this month. About 30 people were arrested in Havana on July 13 during a demonstration commemorating the drowning death in 1994 of 41 people who were trying to flee Cuba by boat. Six of the 30 detained July 13 are still behind bars, dissidents said.
The roundups were the largest sweep since the May 2003 crackdown.
Roque, the only woman among the 75 detained in 2003, was sentenced at the time to 20 years in prison.
She was released for health reasons one year ago, suffering from diabetes, hypertension and partial paralysis of the face. She had already spent three years in jail between 1997 and 2000.
Washington, which has imposed an embargo on Castro’s Cuba since the 1960s, on Saturday condemned the latest arrests.
“We call on the Cuban government to end this deplorable repression and immediately free all of those arrested. We urge other countries to join us in condemning these acts,” said Adam Ereli, the US State Department’s deputy spokesman. (epmh. mine)
Ala Hans Blix in Team America – World Police, the EU has issued a statement telling fidel castro how very very angry they are. Then they slapped on some sunscreen and took a dip with some mulaticas in Varadero beach.
Paxety has more.