March 17 2009

Fifteen dissidents arrested in Santa Clara

HAVANA, Cuba, March 16 (Juan Carlos González Leiva / – Fifteen members of the Central Opposition Coalition (Coalición Central Opositora) (CCO) were arrested in Santa Clara over the weekend when they tried to halt traffic in front of a State Security building in a show of support for protesting hunger strikes.

Among those arrested were coalition president Idania Yanes Contreras and Yesmy Elena Mena Zurbano, Martha Díaz Rondón, Diagzán Saavedra Prat, Félix Reyes Gutiérrez and Ernesto Mederos Arrozarena.

The hunger strikers are seeking the release of political prisoners and Cuban fulfillment of international human rights agreements.

Sentenced to 18 months for anti-government remarks

HAVANA, Cuba, March 16 (Tania Maceda / - Wilmer Sánchez has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for shouting anti-Castro epithets and others against a municipal president in Holguín province.

He is serving the sentence in the Cuba Sí, prison in Holguín.

Human rights activist imprisoned

HAVANA, Cuba, March 16 (Juan Carlos González Leiva / - Nelson Curbelo, a member of the Independent Alternative Option Movement, has been imprisoned after being cited by the police March 3 and is on a hunger strike, according to another prisoner.

Eduardo Marcos Pacheco, an imprisoned human rights advocate, said Pacheco has been on a hunger strike for six days at the Combinado del Sur Prison in Matanzas.

According to Pacheco, Curbelo, 48, told him months ago that State Security was after him for his human rights activities.

Labor unrest in Cienfuegos province

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, March 16 (Licet Zamora, Cubanacán Press / Some 250 workers at the Empresa de Comunales in Lajas, Cienfuegos province, went on strike March 10 to protest a proposed salary reduction.

According to worker Omar Suarez, company director Pedro Pablo Monzón told a meeting of workers that salaries were going to be cut by 30 % and a food basket eliminated.

Suarez said 50 workers asked to be released and 250 declared a work stoppage.