Months After Obama "Normalizes" Relations, Cuban Regime Arrests 24 Female Dissidents During Pope Visit

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Sep 24, 2015 9:00 AM
Months After Obama "Normalizes" Relations, Cuban Regime Arrests 24 Female Dissidents During Pope Visit

In December 2014 President Obama announced he was unilaterally "normalizing" relations with the communist regime of Cuba and was doing so with few preconditions.

"Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas," Obama announced. "Change is hard –- in our own lives, and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. But today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future –- for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world."

Earlier this year, the travel embargo and trade sanctions on the country were lifted. In August, Secretary of State John Kerry opened the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, yet nothing about how the Castro regime treats its people has changed. 

According to Breitbart, at least 24 female dissidents from the Ladies in White were arrested during Pope Francis' visit to the island this week.

24 members of the Cuban Ladies in White dissident group have finally been freed after their arrest to prevent them from attending Pope Francis’s Mass in Havana on Sunday. The women claim to have been beaten, “dragged by the hair,” and subject to verbal obscenities.

In a video filmed at the home of Ladies in White organization head Berta Soler, Soler and the 23 women arrested with her provide the details of what occurred to them for expressing their wish to attend Pope Francis’s Mass at the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana. 23 of the 24, they explain, were put on a large bus and taken to a secure facility by Cuban secret police. Soler was separated from the group and subject to more abuse.

“A bus came at took us all away,” one woman explains, “they took us like they always do: pushing us, beating us.”

The Associated Press also reported the arrests of other dissidents during Papal events. 

Four dissidents opposed to Cuba’s communist regime were arrested when they tried approaching Pope Francis in Havana on Sunday, an activist group reported.

The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba identified the dissidents as Patriotic Union of Cuba members Zaqueo Baéz, Boris Reni, Aymara Nieto Muñoz and Maria Josefa Acon Sardiña, who is also a member of the Ladies in White, a peaceful protest group founded by female relatives of Cuban political prisoners.

Photos showed some of them being dragged away by security personnel at Havana's Revolution Square, where they reportedly tried to approach the pope as his white popemobile carried him to the Mass he was giving.

Even after normalization of relations, little has changed to bolster democracy, freedom of speech or freedom of religion in the communist country.

The Obama administration has not commented on or condemned the continued actions of the Cuban government to arrest and jail dissidents.