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Cuba rules out political reform despite papal visit


Cuba

Cuba rules out political reform despite papal visit

Hopes that Pope Benedict’s visit to Cuba would be the catalyst for change were firmly squashed when he arrived in Havana.

The pontiff was warmly welcomed on the steps of the presidential palace by the Cuban leader Raul Castro.

But earlier Benedict’s public prayers for freedom and renewal for all Cubans prompted a response from a Cuban official there would be no forthcoming political reform.

During private talks the Pope may have affirmed improving relations between church and state but there was no press communique afterwards.

Meanwhile dissidents on the communist-led island have been trying to determine the identity of a man who yelled, “ Down with the Revolution! Down with the dictatorship!” before the Mass in Santiago.

Video of the incident showed him being slapped before security agents took him away.

Human rights monitor Elizardo Sanchez said government critics have a habit of ending up in jail: “We still do not know the identity of this young man nor his whereabouts, but we do know he was brutally beaten by agents of the regime.”

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