News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba detains activists in skirmishes on Human Rights Day

Cuba detains activists in skirmishes on Day
By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban detained peaceful demonstrators at a
busy Havana square on Wednesday, shoving dissidents into squad cars in
front of onlookers on international Human Rights Day.

Police snatched demonstrators intermittently as they arrived
individually or in small groups over some 90 minutes. The skirmishes
briefly disrupted traffic outside the popular Coppelia ice cream shop,
providing a spectacle for onlookers waiting for the or in line at
the cinema.

One leader estimated that dozens were detained in similar
actions across Cuba. Police declined to comment.

Officers grabbed demonstrators who chanted “!” and “Long live
human rights!” or held up their index finger and thumb to form an “L”
for “liberty.”

Pro-government counter demonstrators chanted “Long live the revolution!”
or “Fidel!” for retired former , officially
referred to as the “historic leader” or “commander in chief” of the 1959
Cuban revolution.

In what has become an annual display on Human Rights Day, the clash
between police and protesters took place in plain view of reporters
summoned by the dissident group Ladies in White, which is generally
tolerated but periodically harassed.

One man tossed fliers into the street as he was detained. Police scooped
them up, refusing to provide a copy to Reuters.

Another man quietly told Reuters in English, “Don’t worry, this country
will be free very soon. These people are very bad, the communists.” He
was then grabbed by police and hauled away in a squad car.

Asked what offense he committed, police pointed to the counter
demonstrators and said, “Ask them.”

Cuban officials typically detain dissidents for a few hours or days and
release them without charge.

“Certainly there will have been dozens (of detentions) across the
country today, mostly in the capital, but it’s still too early to say,”
said Elizardo Sanchez, leader of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights
and National Reconciliation.

Police detained 398 opposition activists in November, raising to 8,410
the number of short-term detentions this year, the commission said.

The numbers include repeat detentions and cannot be independently confirmed.

Cuba considers dissidents paid agents of the United States and says its
free healthcare and are also human rights.

To support that assertion, the government invited reporters to a Havana
treating 279 patients with disabilities.

“Here we work to achieve happiness for those with a mental disability
out of the respect our society has for human rights,” hospital director
Emelia Ycart said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Nelson Acosta; Editing by G Crosse,
David Adams and Christian Plumb)

Source: Cuba detains activists in skirmishes on Human Rights Day – Yahoo
News –
http://news.yahoo.com/cuba-detains-activists-skirmishes-human-rights-day-174848150.html;_ylt=AwrBEiEahYlUjkQAMJrQtDMD

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