AFP: US presses Cuba with prisoner list11 December 2018 | 20:05 | FOCUS News Agency
In a letter released Tuesday by the State Department, Pompeo asked Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to provide a "substantive explanation" on the detention of eight listed prisoners.
Among them was Martha Sanchez of the Ladies in White, a dissident movement of relatives of political prisoners, who according to Pompeo is serving a five-year sentence.
Other prisoners on the list include Eduardo Cardet, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, a party rooted in Catholicism that advocates democracy on the communist island.
In the letter, Pompeo voiced concern that Cuba was detaining people as "dangerous" potential criminals rather than for actual infractions, despite assurances that the charge was no longer used.
"The United States recognizes the sovereign right of every state to try and to convict individuals for violating criminal laws, provided they are afforded fair trial guarantees by an independent and impartial tribunal," Pompeo wrote.
"That principle, however, does not justify the imprisonment of Cuban individuals for simply exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religion, expression, assembly or association," he said, adding that Cuba had more than 100 political prisoners.
President Donald Trump has reversed a reconciliation drive with Cuba launched by his predecessor Barack Obama, who declared that the decades-old US policy of seeking to isolate the island had failed.
On a historic 2016 visit to Cuba, Obama gave a list of prisoners to revolutionary leader Raul Castro, asking for their freedom.
According to Pompeo, Cuba has made clear in subsequent meetings that it will not respond on the prisoners, including on questions submitted by the US through a formal diplomatic note in June.
In October, Cuban diplomats disrupted a meeting at the United Nations called by the United States on the plight of prisoners.
Cuban diplomats drowned out the US representative through chanting, slamming a book and hammering down a mallet, leading security to ask the delegates to stop -- but to no avail.
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