Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, questioned an early tweet from the US State Department on Monday that appeared to assure Americans the right to peaceful assembly is respected in Cuba amid new reports of a punitive crackdown by the government and an emerging “list” of missing persons. “
Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, published part of a Wall Street Journal article that mentioned efforts by the Cuban Communist government to quell the protests. Havana has deployed security forces across the island and arrested dozens. Reuters reported that it appeared police – many of whom were dressed in civilian clothes – had been seen beating protesters.
“How is it possible??” Cruz tweeted. “Has Biden’s State Department told us that the Cuban Communist dictatorship protects their ‘right to peaceful assembly’? “
Cruz referred to the much maligned tweet sent by the State Department on Sunday which read in part: “Peaceful protests on the rise in #Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly.”
The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News emails. President Biden said in a previous statement: “We stand with the Cuban people and their clear call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been. submitted by the authoritarian regime of Cuba. “
The Journal report says the Cuban government has essentially blocked much of the country’s communications with the outside world and arrested more than 100 people. The report, citing activists, said it is not known where many of the protesters are.
The protests were considered historic. Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, accompanied by a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. The country also reported 7,000 daily COVID-19 infections and 47 deaths on Sunday.
“For the first time ever, authorities have deployed riot gear,” Angel Rodriguez, a human rights activist in Havana, told the newspaper. “Last night the police used rubber bullets and tear gas.”
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The crackdown is not a surprise. President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, has shown no interest in addressing the concerns of the protesters. He used a televised address on Sunday night to urge revolutionaries to take to the streets and counter anti-government protesters.
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Amnesty International published reports of a “long list of missing persons” resulting from the protests.
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“The Díaz-Canel government must respond to the social demands of its citizens, given the economic crisis, food and drug shortages, the collapse of the health system – which does not respond to the current COVID crisis -” 19 – and the accumulation of historic demands for respect for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, “said a statement from the group.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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