Friday, May 20, 2005

Cuba dissidents hold rare rally

I've been reading Natan Scharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, and this meeting today in Cuba seems like it might be one of those moments where the "double thinkers" [the folks who pay lip service to the regime but inside know it's a failure and obscenity] in a "fear society" will become embolden to fight back. Starts small but the past 20 years have shown how quick events can unfold.

Around 200 Cuban dissidents are holding a public meeting in Havana in defiance of a ban on political opposition.

The BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Havana says there is no sign of a major police presence, and the authorities have not acted directly to stop the meeting.

US diplomat in Cuba James Cason played a video message from President Bush that praised the dissidents for coming out of the "shadow of repression".

But Cuba has expelled several European politicians who had planned to attend.

Czech Senator Karel Schwarzenberg and German MP Arnold Vaatz were seized by police and driven to Havana airport.

The European Commission has described Thursday's expulsions as unacceptable.

Two Polish MEPs were refused entry to Cuba earlier in the week.

And at least two journalists, from Poland and Italy, were detained by the Cuban authorities ahead of the meeting. --BBC Friday, 20 May, 2005, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK

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