The PJ Tatler

Cuba Arrests Dissidents in Obama Masks Days Before Kerry Visit

Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Havana on Friday to officially open U.S. Embassy facilities there, and the Castro regime is rolling out the welcome wagon by arresting some more dissidents.

The police seized demonstrators as they demanded the United States take more of an interest in human rights:

The protesters, 50 of whom belonged to the opposition movement Ladies in White, claimed the US government had emboldened the Castro regime’s recent crackdown on dissidents —many of them wore masks with the image of Barack Obama.

“What is happening is his fault,” said former political prisoner Ángel Moya before being detained. “The Cuban government has grown even bolder. That’s why we have this mask on. Because it’s his fault.”

Asked about the report today at the State Department briefing, press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. is “deeply concerned by them, by this roundup of peaceful activists by Cuban authorities this past Sunday.”

“Members of our embassy there in Havana have confirmed these reports. The United States will continue to advocate for the rights to peaceful assembly, association, and freedom of expression and religion, and we’re going to continue to voice our support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba,” Kirby said.

When asked how many protesters were rounded up — one estimate at 118 people — Kirby replied, “I don’t have a number for you. I’d refer you to Cuban authorities there.”

“For us, it doesn’t matter whether it’s one or it’s 101. We’re going to continue to make — to call for support for peaceful assembly, association, freedom of expression,” he added.

Asked if Kerry has included a meeting with dissidents on his Cuba trip, Kirby said, “I don’t have anything specific with his — on his schedule Friday when he goes down to Havana. We’ll — we’ll — as we get closer to Friday, we’ll be able to give you more details about — about does it.”