Days and hours before Pope Benedict XVI landed on Cuban soil, the Castro regime massively arrested members of Cuban civil society- peaceful dissidents, human rights activists, bloggers, artists and independent journalists. Those who were not confined to pestilent dungeons were under house arrest in order to impede them from participating in the Pope’s mass. During Benedict’s first Mass in Santiago de Cuba, the arrests multiplied in the Eastern region of the country. However, as the Pope traveled to Havana, the repression trailed along behind him. In spite of these repressive actions from the Castro regime, Pope Benedict XVI did not meet with members of the Cuban Resistance, not even the Ladies in White, who had publicly expressed that they wished to meet with him “even if for just a minute”.
The Assembly of the Resistance, a coalition of more than 50 pro-democracy organizations in and out of Cuba, launched an Information and Support Center for the duration of the Pope’s visit to Cuba. Its purpose was to report the abuses perpetrated by the regime against the peaceful dissidents while the media covered the masses and the pilgrimages. Although it was difficult to report the arrests and the violence since the regime censored Resistance members by cutting their phone lines, the Assembly managed to confirm 250 arrests.
Click here to view the confirmed cases of arrests. Although some have been released, others are still held unjustly behind bars. Most of those jailed are on hunger strike.
In continuation to this post, this blog will publish a series of testimonies of some of the Cubans that suffered violence for stepping out of their homes, for trying to get to Mass, and for being free. They are the faces which the Pope did not see.