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Silencing Dissent In Cuba

Yoani Sanchez, who writes the "Generation Y" blog, center, walks with her husband Reinaldo Escobar in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday March 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

The United States is deeply concerned by the Cuban Government’s repeated use of arbitrary detention to silence critics.

A prominent Cuban blogger has been released after more than a day in custody following her detention en route to observe the sensitive trial of a man accused of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a Cuban civil society activist.

Silencing Dissent In Cuba
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Over the last two years, the Cuban Government has released dozens of long-held political prisoners in amnesty gestures. But at the same time it has increased its use of short-term arbitrary detention of human rights and civil rights workers in an apparent effort to suppress negative news coverage and stifle public criticism of its actions and policies.

Yoani Sanchez, who has angered Cuban authorities with her descriptions of daily life in Cuba on her blog, Generation Y, and reports for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, was detained October 4 while traveling to the eastern city of Bayamo to observe and report on the trial of Spanish citizen Angel Carromero. Also detained were Sanchez’s husband, Reinaldo Escobar, and another man. In July, Carromero was driving in eastern Cuba when, according to Cuban Government accounts, he lost control of the car on a section of a highway undergoing repairs. The vehicle struck a tree, killing two men riding in the back seat.

Cuban officials have charged Carromero with speeding and causing the deaths of the victims, including prominent activist Oswaldo Paya, whose efforts on behalf of peaceful political change in Cuba were recognized around the world, including by the European Union, which awarded him its Sakharov Prize in 2002. Carromero was recently convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.

The United States is deeply concerned by the Cuban Government’s repeated use of arbitrary detention to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and impede independent journalism. The Sanchez incident shows yet again that the Cuban Government continues to limit fundamental freedoms. Despite all of the government’s talks of reform, human rights conditions in Cuba remain poor.