Castro urged to review trials and sentences

Published June 1, 2003


In a letter addressed to Cuban President Fidel Castro, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Konrad Raiser, called the recent trials and long sentences given to Cuban political dissidents a miscarriage of justice.

He urged that their sentences be reviewed and that they be released. “Such action by the authorities will serve to increase the credibility of the Cuban government,” Mr. Raiser said. Following one-day trials, Cuba sentenced 75 dissidents to between six and 28 years in prison for collaborating with U.S. diplomats to undermine the Communist government.

Governments and human rights groups around the world condemned the crackdown, which began March 18 after the sweeping capture of dissidents.

The WCC acknowledged “that Cuba has recently experienced an increase in external pressures and interference in its sovereignty and independence,” especially by the United States government. He added that Cuban authorities should “not allow their decisions to jeopardize the integrity of the Cuban revolution.”

In his letter to President Castro, Mr. Raiser recalled his visit to Cuba in October, 1999, and assured the leader “of the constant prayers of the World Council of Churches and its many members who share our concern for the peace and prosperity of the Cuban people.”


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