Dissidents in Cuba
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Cuba apologizes for police raid on Catholic church

Cuba apologizes for police raid on Catholic church
Fri Dec 7, 2007 1:41pm EST

HAVANA, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Cuban officials have apologized to the Roman
Catholic Church for a police raid on a parish church in eastern Cuba
this week to arrest dissidents, the Archbishop of Santiago said on Friday.

"The authorities said they were sorry," Monsignor Dionisio Garcia told
Reuters by telephone. "We discussed how to avoid it happening again."

Plainclothes police stormed the grounds of Santa Teresita church on
Tuesday in the eastern city of Santiago and beat dissidents in the
parish hall used for Masses.

Pepper spray was used on the dissidents and seven were handcuffed and
taken away, according to the parish priest, Jose Conrado Rodriguez. The
dissidents were freed the next day, a human rights group said.

The two dozen government opponents had marched 20 blocks to protest the
arrest of a fellow dissident and entered the church to attend Mass.

The raid came at a time of warmer ties between the communist government
and the Church. Cuba was an atheist state until 1992, when freedom of
religious worship was officially recognized ahead of a visit by Pope
John Paul II in 1998.

Relations have strengthened further recently as the Church withheld
criticism of Cuba's social problems.

Monsignor Garcia said the Rev. Rodriguez, an outspoken critic of Cuban
leader Fidel Castro, was not held responsible by the authorities for the
incident. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Xavier Briand)

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN07226642

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