Monday, December 10, 2007

Cuba "Celebrates" International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day. In noting this occasion, Reporters Sans Frontieres points out which regimes have imprisoned the most journalists:

China, with 33 journalists in prison and Cuba, with 24, have for the past four years been the two biggest prisons in the world for journalists. Governments in Beijing and Havana release journalists little by little, often only a few months before the end of their sentences. And others almost immediately take their place.

I'm sure the Castro regime is disappointed at having to settle for the number two spot. However, when you look at journalists imprisoned per capita, Cuba comes out way ahead. So Fidel has that going for him.

On a serious note, the Castro regime has recently intensified its efforts to crackdown on Cuban dissdents. In one particularly outrageous incident, security forces stormed into a church in order to beat and arrest a small group of demonstrators.

According to the BBC, the arrested dissidents have since been released and the regime has actually apologized to the local Catholic archbishop. Still, the message was sent.

The same article notes that the recent crackdown seems designed to prevent any demonstrations from taking place today and thus embarrassing the regime:

The number of political prisoners in Cuba has fallen since Raul Castro, brother of President Fidel Castro, took over as acting president on 31 July 2006, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation.

But the group, illegal but tolerated by the authorities, says there has been a marked increase in police activity in recent weeks.

Its head, Elizardo Sanchez, said the authorities were using a new tactic which he called "preventative repression".

"For example, if a group is going to meet in a house or park, they will detain people so they can't get there," Mr Sanchez said.

"Before, it wasn't so subtle, just pure hard repression, straight to prison. Now the authorities are being more careful."

While it is a relief that there are fewer political prisoners in Cuba, it appears that the regime has merely become smarter about how it crushes dissent.


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