Dissident beaten and left in countryside

HOLGUÍN, Cuba, March 27 (María Antonia Hidalgo, Holguín Press / - Police detained dissident Arnaldo Expósito last week and abandoned him in a rural area after questioning him.

According to Expósito, he was going downtown March 20 in a horse-drawn carriage when he was stopped by police. He said he shouted “Freedom for Cuba” and “Down with the Castro dictatorship” as he was being placed in a police cruiser.

He said he was questioned for 12 hours at the police station and then taken to a rural area known as Los Angeles, where he was dropped off. He said he was beaten to the ground and told he had to stop his opposition to the government.

“Neither blows nor jail nor death will keep me from my fight, “he said.

U.N. urged to seek freedom of independent journalists

HAVANA, Cuba, March 27 de (Aleaga Pesant / – The Cuban Citizens Committee, based in Santiago de Cuba, has asked U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki to use diplomatic means to obtain the release of independent journalists imprisoned since March 18, 2003 when the government cracked down on dissidents.

The appeal was made in a letter signed by Guillermo Espinosa, who has been held under house arrest because of his dissident activities.

The letter said Cuban President Raúl Castro has not fulfilled promises of change and is not obeying Human Rights agreements to which Cuba is a signatory.

Women protest by paying in pesos instead of dollars

HAVANA, Cuba, March 27 (Julio Beltrán, Agencia Libre Asociada / - A group of dissident women protested against the government last week by refusing to pay the bill in hard currency at a restaurant that does not accept Cuban pesos.

The women were members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women and other opposition groups.

The waiter at the outlet of the Di-tu fast-food chain initially refused to accept the pesos March 20 but relented when he realized the women were not going to pay in U.S. dollars or another hard currency. “I hope these are worth something here,” the waiter said, referring to the pesos.

Sugar-cane workers protest longer hours

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, March 27 (Licet Zamora, Cubanacán Press, / Sugar-cane workers at the Palmar plantation in Santa Isabel de las Lajas, Cienfuegos province, have protested management’s decision o increase the work day to 24 hours worked in two shifts.

Workers said their salaries are already low, they’re not supplied with gloves and there is little lighting at night, which can lead to accidents.

Worker Gustavo Pérez said plantation administrator manager Ariel de los Santos wants to increase production.