International

Human Rights Group Says Cuba Arrests, Harasses Activists During Papal Visit

Back dropped by an image of Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful from his popemobile as arrives at Revolution Square for a Mass in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday. i i

hide captionBack dropped by an image of Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful from his popemobile as arrives at Revolution Square for a Mass in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday.

Ramon Espinosa/AP
Back dropped by an image of Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful from his popemobile as arrives at Revolution Square for a Mass in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday.

Back dropped by an image of Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful from his popemobile as arrives at Revolution Square for a Mass in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday.

Ramon Espinosa/AP

Amnesty International says the Cuban government has increased its harassment of opposition activists.

According to the human rights organization, the government has detained more 150 opponents and in other situations has surrounded some of the activists' homes to prevent them from "denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict's tour."

Amnesty adds that some human rights organizations and prominent activists have had their phones cut off.

"In view of this situation, which contradicts his appeal for a 'more open society' in Cuba, the Pope should take a stand and lend his voice to those that have been left voiceless due to the ongoing repression and condemn the lack of freedoms in Cuba," Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

As we reported, during his tour of the island Pope Benedict XVI has delivered pointed criticisms of the regime.

Yoani Sánchez, perhaps the country's best known opposition bloggers, said she was at the papal mass this morning. She sent out dispatches on Twitter, saying that as the pope said goodbye some of her friends were released from detention.

"I'm sorry to say it," she said on Twitter, "the pope's mantle did protect all of us."

The Miami Herald reports that the Vatican confirmed the pontiff is meeting with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, today. The pope met with Castro's brother and Cuba's current president Raúl Castro, yesterday.

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