Cuba dissidents say 200 detained up to U.N. rights day

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2011 12:03 PM
Cuba dissidents say 200 detained up to U.N. rights day

By Jack Kimball and Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban opposition said on Saturday that about 200 people had been temporarily detained by the Communist-led Caribbean island's security services ahead of the international U.N. human rights day.

Cuban government supporters intend to throw a party on Saturday with games and cultural events in a park where dissidents plan a protest to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of a U.N. human rights accord, state media and dissidents said.

"Some 200 detentions for political motives have taken plan in the last nine days in the lead up to international human rights day," 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.

On Friday, about 200 government devotees prevented the opposition group Ladies in White from marching in central Havana.

The Ladies in White group was formed by the wives and mothers of 75 dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown on Castro's opponents. They have since been released.

Havana's "Black Spring of 2003" caused a major fallout between Cuba and the international community, and while some European nations have begun a rapprochement since the prisoner release, long-time foe the United States remains skeptical.

Cuba's government, which came to power in 1959 by overthrowing a U.S.-backed dictator, accuses domestic dissidents of being bought by Washington, which has had a trade embargo against the island since the 1960s.

On Saturday, state media was filled with stories and commentaries for the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

"The fulfillment of international commitments ... has been implicit in the work of the Cuban Revolution despite the economic war ... and also the systematic plots to destroy it," Jose Luis Mendez Mendez, an analyst at the research arm of the Interior Ministry, wrote in an opinion piece on cubadebate.cu.

(Reporting by Jack Kimball and Nelson Acosta; Editing by Bill Trott)