Obama condemns treatment of protesters

In what amounts to an endorsement of hunger strikers and dissident groups such as the Ladies in White, President Barack Obama condemned the Cuban government’s “tight fist” treatment of protesters in a press release yesterday.

The move was welcomed by the Ladies in White, while the Cuban government has remained silent. The statement, posted in Spanish on the White House Web site, is raising hopes among hardline anti-Castro activists in the United States that the Administration’s small-step detente strategy is coming to an end.

“We thank President Obama for his statement in solidarity with the Cuban people and his recognition of the increased repression by the Cuban dictatorship,” said a statement signed by Florida Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart.

The Cuban government characterized similar criticism as an orchestrated campaign against Cuba. Supporters have contrasted the intense coverage of a hunger striker’s death and protests in Cuba with the international silence over more than 100 murders and disappearances in Honduras since a coup last year.

The four-paragraph Obama statement mentions outreach efforts to Cuba, but it doesn’t say whether they should continue. “I continue to be committed to back the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the American continent, and that should be universal among all human beings,” the statement says.

The crackdown against “those who dare express the desires of their fellow Cuban citizens” are “extremely worrying,” the statement says. 

The Obama Administration relaxed travel restrictions last year and resumed semi-annual migration talks. The next meeting should be held mid-year in the United States. Also, talks about resuming direct postal service are ongoing.

Apparently at the request of the United States, U.S. State Department and Cuban healthcare officials met March 17 on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in the Dominican Republic to talk about coordinating support for Haiti.

You May Also Like