Kerry to meet with dissidents in Cuba
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Cuban dissidents and members of the Ladies in White human rights group hold a Cuban national flag and pictures of imprisoned dissidents as they protest against the reopening of the US embassy in the island, in a park of Havana, on August 9, 2015. AFP PhotoTop US diplomat John Kerry will meet with Cuban dissidents during his historic trip to Cuba, he said on August 12.
"They will be invited to our mission," Kerry told the US Spanish-language network Telemundo ahead of the August 14 visit to Havana.
"I will take an open, free walk in Old Havana," the picturesque Spanish colonial-era district popular with tourists.
Such meetings are a sensitive issue for the only Communist government in the Americas, as it reestablishes normal ties with Washington after more than 50 years.
Kerry's visit on August 14 will put a symbolic coda on the historic rapprochement announced on December 17 by US President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, which paved the way for the Cold War enemies to restore diplomatic ties last month.
After the public flag-raising event, Kerry will meet with a broad range of sectors of Cuban society, a State Department source explained.
"Later in the day, we are having a larger event at the chief of mission residence which is also a diplomatic installation and with a broad range of groups being invited including the Cuban government, Cuban Americans, Cuban cultural leaders, the diplomatic corp, entrepreneurs, and Cuban political human rights and media activists," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"And the secretary does look forward to seeing many members of Cuban civil society, including dissidents, at that event."
Some 90 dissidents were arrested on August 9 at a protest against the reopening of the US embassy in Havana.
The protest underscored the anxiety of the opposition movement as Kerry prepares to officially reopen the embassy and fly the US flag over the building for the first time since January 3, 1961.