The government of Fidel Castro blocked a peaceful protest scheduled to be held in front of the French embassy in Havana, Cuba. According to news reports, more than twenty human rights activists were detained either in their homes or on their way to the protest site.
The demonstration was called to demand the release of political prisoners in Cuba and to commemorate the 1994 sinking of a tugboat crowded with Cubans who were trying to escape from the oppressive communist regime. More than forty people drowned when a Cuban patrol boat rammed the vessel.
Among those detained and later released was Martha Beatriz Roque, an economist and head of Cuba's independent Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society. The assembly held its first national meeting in May, bringing together pro-democracy activists from across Cuba. Ms. Roque says the protests against the regime will continue. "The way is the street," she told a reporter, "and we are going to use the streets across the country."
Other activists remain in jail. Would-be demonstrators "only crime," U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says, "was attempting to exercise their basic human rights and freedoms." He says the United States "calls on the Cuban government to end this deplorable repression and immediately free all of those arrested." President George W. Bush says that as the people of Cuba struggle for freedom, the American people stand with them:
"We're working to ensure that the Cuban people hear the clear voice of truth through Radio and TV Marti. And we're working to prevent the repressive regime from exploiting the hard currency of tourists and remittances to Cubans."
The United States is "not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom," says Mr. Bush. The U.S. is "working for the day of Cuban freedom."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.