In remarks made yesterday during his visit to Chile, Obama claimed that the Cuban people “deserve” the same freedoms “as everyone else in this hemisphere.” He acknowledged the efforts of Cuba’s opposition movement including the Ladies in White who have faced constant harassment by pro-government supporters.
Additionally, Obama emphasized relaxing travel and remittance restrictions as examples of the U.S. trying to improve ties with Cuba. Relations between both countries have been strained over the past several weeks, especially with the conviction of aid worker Alan Gross for allegedly aiding Cuban dissidents. Obama did not mention the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a decades-long measure that served as a sore point between the U.S. and Cuban governments.
The Cuban government has yet to respond to Obama’s words though state television aired a film critical of the island’s dissidents. The documentary accused the U.S. of launching a “new kind of counterrevolution” against Cuba by using “cyber-mercenary” bloggers such as Yoani Sanchez. Sanchez replied by posting a video on her blog of a symposium with other anti-Castro activists. According to AFP:
In a blog video in response to the latest charges, Sanchez and five other opponents accuse the government of "demonizing" the Internet after revolutions led by online activists brought down longstanding regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.Image- Reuters via BBC News (The Ladies in White where confronted by government supporters in this photo taken last month).
"It is nervous because social networks like Twitter and Facebook can play the same role in Cuba they did in Egypt and Tunisia," it said.
Online Sources- CNN, AP, AFP, Generation Y, The Latin Americanist, Sydney Morning Herald