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Cuban Dissidents Harassed

The government of Fidel Castro is harassing the Cuban opposition in advance of a pro-democracy gathering scheduled for May 20th in Havana.

One of Cuba's best-known opposition leaders, Martha Beatriz Roque, was released in 2004 from serving a twenty-year jail sentence because of poor health. Through a translator, she said the Castro government is trying to intimidate prospective attendees and discredit organizers of the conference:

"For us, it is critical to receive international support because the Castro regime has focused its repressive apparatus on the leaders of the assembly at this point, so international support is critical."

Two years ago, the Cuban government imposed prison sentences averaging twenty years on seventy-five people who dared to express their differences with the Castro regime over the question of democracy.

Cubans in general have been condemned to poverty under the statist policies of the Communist government. In 1959, the year that Castro assumed power, Cuba had one of the highest per capita gross domestic products in Latin America. Today the average Cuban worker earns the equivalent of twelve dollars a month.

The day is coming when Cubans will again be free. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "We know from history that while citizens' desire for individual freedoms and rights can be repressed for a time by authoritarian and/or corrupt regimes, there comes a time when all people have had enough, striking a spark of liberty, and then they rise up to take control of their own futures and their own destinies."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.