It has been described as the most widespread crackdown on political dissent in Cuba since the 1960s.
While the invasion of Iraq began half a world away three weeks ago, nearly 80 political dissidents were quietly arrested in Cuba. They have already been tried in court and some have been sentenced to up to 27 years in prison.
International human rights organizations have condemned the arrests and the speedy trials. They have accused Cuba of targeting human rights activists, independent journalists and other dissidents. Meanwhile Cuban officials have charged the arrested individuals were traitors who had conspired with the United States to subvert Castro’s government.
The Associated Press has pointed out that independent journalists received some of the harshest sentences. Reporter and photographer Omar Rodriguez Saludes was sentenced to 27 years in jail. 20-year sentences were handed down to poet and writer Raul Rivero, magazine editor Ricardo Gonzalez and economics writer Oscar Espinosa Chepe.
Well we are joined today by Chepe’s wife, Miriam Leyva who is joining us on the phone from Cuba. We are also joined by Fernando Garcia Bielsa, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section.
- Fernando Garcia-Bielsa,/B>, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section, which functions as a Cuban embassy in the United States.
- Miriam Leyva, wife of jailed economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe.