Cubans Concerned About Intensification of Persecution

The laity of the Diocese of Pinar del Rio expressed their concern about the recent wave of detentions of peaceful dissidents in the island nation.

In a statement Sunday they highlighted the "continuation of intolerance and persecution, manifested in detentions and summary sentences to opponents and dissidents."

The accused face severe sanctions "which should never be applied to any person for thinking and acting in a different way peacefully."

In its statement, the Diocesan Council of the Laity of Pinar del Rio appeals for dialogue as the way to solve conflicts, and foster understanding beyond differences, "supporting all those who suffer injustice."

Cuba has prosecuted 75 dissidents and dealt harsh summary sentences to most of them, human rights defense organizations reported Tuesday.

The severest sentence -- 27 years in prison -- was meted out to independent journalist Omar Rodríguez Saludes.

The regime's opponents were detained during a wave of arrests in March, accused of being mercenaries paid by the United States to destabilize the island's government.

Last Thursday, the Conference of Religious of Cuba organized a Day of Prayer for Peace and the Release of Dissidents, who have been given long prison sentences for opposing the regime's ideology.

Numerous religious of various Catholic congregations, together with a number of faithful, met in St. John Lateran Church in Havana to pray for reconciliation, tolerance and a better future for all Cubans.