The U.S. State Department's most recent human rights report points out that in 2005, "In Cuba, the regime continued to control all aspects of life through the Communist party and state-controlled mass organizations."
According to the State Department, during the past year, the Castro regime "arrested, detained, fined and threatened Varela activists and the government held at least three-hundred-thirty-three political prisoners and detainees." The Varela Project was a campaign for a national referendum on Cuba's Communist system.
In March 2003, more than one-hundred Cubans – pro-democracy activists, journalists, and librarians – were arrested. Placed on trial, seventy-five of them were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six years to twenty-eight years. Fifteen have been released because of medical conditions but could be re-imprisoned at any time.
Among those still in prison are Hector Palacios, a former Cuban Communist party official and Varela Project organizer. He is serving a twenty-five year term. Paul Rivero, founder of an independent news service, was sentenced to twenty years, as was Marta Beatrix Roque, director of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economics.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that since Castro seized power in 1959, Cuban citizens have been denied basic liberties:
"The United States and others in the international community will not allow these champions of human rights to be forgotten nor will we let their courageous action in pursuit of freedom be in vain."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "For nearly fifty years, the regime of Fidel Castro has condemned the people of Cuba to a tragic fate of repression and poverty. Thousands of Cubans have fled Castro's nightmare." The U.S. will not rest, says Ms. Rice, "until this hemisphere is the best example of a hemisphere united in freedom and democracy. We cannot do that," she said, "until there is a free Cuba."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.