Cyprus joins stand against mass arrests in Cuba

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The foreign ministers of the United States and 20 other countries, including Cyprus, have condemned mass arrests in Cuba and called for full restoration of Internet access in the island rocked by political unrest.

The joint statement was issued by the governments of Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and Ukraine, alongside the United States.

“Democracies around the world are coming together to support the Cuban people, calling on the Cuban government to respect Cubans’ demands for universal human rights,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, referring to the group that included some of Cuba’s Latin American neighbours alongside former members and satellites of the Soviet Union.

Last week the United States imposed sanctions on a Cuban security minister and an interior ministry special forces unit for alleged human rights abuses during a crackdown on anti-government protests earlier this month against an economic crisis, the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and recent curbs on civil rights.

Hundreds of activists were detained.

The Cuban government has blamed the protests mostly on what it calls U.S.-financed “counter-revolutionaries” exploiting economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions.

The unrest appears to have injected a new sense of urgency into US President Joe Biden’s broad Cuba policy review, which began shortly after taking office in January.

Until now, Cuba had not been treated as a top agenda item while the administration dealt with the economic recovery and coronavirus pandemic at home and challenges such as China, Russia, and Iran abroad. (source Reuters)