HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban dissidents said yesterday that about 200 people were temporarily detained by the Communist-run island’s security services in the days leading up to an international human rights celebration.
Government supporters danced salsa and chanted political slogans in a Havana square to mark the 63rd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.
Oppositon members who had planned to celebrate Human Rights Day in the same place, and protest against abuses in Cuba, were blocked from going to the square, dissidents said.
“Some 200 detentions for political motives have taken plan in the last nine days in the lead up to the international Human Rights Day,” said Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights said.
“Authorities use a tactic of short-duration arrests, who are released a few hours or days later, to impede protests.”
International rights groups say Cuban laws virtually prevent all forms of protest and dissent while the government says the free education and health services it provides show its respect for human rights.