Cuba authorities use ‘heavy’ force to stop activists

By Alejandro Quijano BBC News, Havana Mr Martínez said the authorities had used excessive force to prevent the movement of student protesters A group of Cuban activists are being kept back from their homes…

Cuba authorities use 'heavy' force to stop activists

By Alejandro Quijano

BBC News, Havana

Mr Martínez said the authorities had used excessive force to prevent the movement of student protesters A group of Cuban activists are being kept back from their homes by authorities on the day after a series of small protests were held across the island. The opposition leaders say that despite heavy police presence outside their homes, they are not allowed to resume their campaigning activities. In recent months the island has seen a spate of meetings organised by the opposition called off by police. The US and the EU have both said they would like to work with the Cuban government to tackle the growing dissatisfaction with its communist rule. Discontent spreads? Official reaction to the small protests in recent weeks has been muted. The Cuban government has accused a US-financed group of staging “false” protests to discredit it. Yesterday, officials said 10 people in the central city of Cienfuegos were arrested as they attempted to march on the government offices. Dozens more activists were detained for similar reasons, including Jorge Martínez, president of the opposition weekly Cristian Hejer, and Magdalena Bardales, president of the youth wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Mr Martínez, a longtime opponent of the Cuban government, told the BBC he was told to meet the Cuban police four times in the previous 48 hours at his home. He said officers would not give him directions but insisted they enter through the kitchen. The authorities will not even tell him why they are keeping him back. Mr Martínez said the authorities had used excessive force to prevent the movement of student protesters in the past two days. “I don’t know what to do. Even when people have the right to protest, the authorities do not allow it because they don’t want to hear the reason why,” he said.

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