Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cuba dissident identifies papal Mass protester

Posted on Friday, 03.30.12

Cuba dissident identifies papal Mass protester
Associated Press

HAVANA -- A leading Cuban dissident has identified the mystery man who
yelled anti-government slogans just before a Mass celebrated by Pope
Benedict XVI this week before being hustled away by security agents.

Jose Daniel Ferrer told The Associated Press that the protester's name
is Andres Carrion Alvarez, and identified him as a 38-year-old resident
of the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba. Ferrer said the man was still
in custody Friday.

The protester shouted "Down with the Revolution! Down with the
dictatorship!" near journalists at the Mass at Santiago's crowded
Revolution Plaza on Monday. Video of the incident showed him being hit
by an apparent first-aid worker wearing a white T-shirt with a large red
cross, before they were separated. Security agents quickly took him away.

Ferrer is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba opposition group in
Santiago. He says Carrion approached another member of the group in
recent weeks and expressed interest in their activism.

"We were able to identify him this morning," Ferrer said, adding that
two of his colleagues were trying to contact Carrion's family. Ferrer
said Carrion was being held at the Versalles police station in the city.
It was not clear if he had been charged with any crime.

The government has had no comment, but a spokesperson for Benedict said
the pontiff was aware of the incident and concerned about the man's welfare.

"There was contact made to be informed about the person and his
situation," the Rev. Federico Lombardi told journalists before the
pope's departure Wednesday. "The interest was there and was manifested."

Benedict met with Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel
during the three-day trip. He denounced the country's Marxist system as
outmoded ahead of his arrival, and used homilies and speeches to urge
greater freedom. He also criticized the 50-year-old U.S. economic
embargo, which he said had caused unnecessary suffering.

The Santiago protester's identity had been a mystery to leading members
of the island's small dissident community, with some taking to Twitter
to try to find out more about him.

Elizardo Sanchez, who monitors human rights on the island and acts as a
de facto spokesman for the opposition, said he had no idea who the man
was. Cuba considers all the dissidents to be mercenaries paid by
Washington to stir up trouble.

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter:

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