Cuban Bishops' Commission Criticizes Detention of Dissidents

Advocates a Public Debate of Ideas and a National Dialogue

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HAVANA, MARCH 26, 2003 ( The Cuban bishops’ Commission of Justice and Peace decried the detention of citizens who dissent from the official government ideology.

The commission’s criticism was in response to a government statement that the detention of dozens of persons was due to a «conspiracy» with the United States, especially with James Cason, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the principal American diplomat in Cuba.

The March 18 announcement by the government unleashed a wave of 75 arrests, mostly of dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists.

«We profoundly lament that in our homeland inappropriate methods are being used to disqualify and detain people because they think and act in a different manner to the official ideology,» stated the bishops’ commission.

The commission, presided over by Archbishop Emeritus Adolfo Rodríguez of Camaguey, published its statement Monday.

The statement added «that the methods used must not be confused with the persons who are delinquent and the way of dealing with those who dissent politically. In the latter case, public debate of ideas and national dialogue must be put into practice.

«The case of the war in Iraq and in other countries of the Middle East is an example of what happens when, on one side, the rights of citizens and peoples are ignored and the United Nations resolutions are violated, and on the other side, some countries unilaterally assume what corresponds to the international community,» the statement said.

«Likewise,» it said, «we recognize that the sovereignty of each country must be safeguarded and that all other nations must respect the internal processes of every nation without foreign interference.»

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