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11/6/04 - O-A-S TO PROBE CUBAN REPRESSION - 2004-11-08

The Organization of American States, or O-A-S, will investigate the Cuban government's brutal crackdown on dissidents and journalists.

In March 2003, over one-hundred Cuban journalists, economists, and political reformers were detained. Some were released, but seventy-five were subjected to unfair trials and sentenced to prison terms as long as twenty-eight years. Their so-called "crime" was calling for freedom and dignity for the Cuban people.

The O-A-S Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly tried to send representatives to Cuba. But the Communist government of Fidel Castro continues to ignore the commission's requests.

Repression is severe in Cuba, and has resulted in deteriorating living conditions, extreme economic difficulties, and widespread brutality. "Large-scale violations of public freedom continue in Cuba," says commission president Jose Zalaquett, "particularly for the right to political participation and of free expression, and the systematic repression against dissidents, human rights activists, and independent journalists."

President George W. Bush says the United States is determined to give hope to those brave Cubans who struggle every day against Castro's totalitarian system:

"My administration is working toward a comprehensive solution: the rapid, peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. We have put a strategy in place to hasten the day when every Cuban citizen will live in freedom."

Castro's assault on peaceful dissent is a notorious act of political repression. It is the duty of free nations to hold the Cuban government to account. "It is important for those who love freedom," said President Bush, "to know that our support for them will never waver."