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Cuban exiles calls on islanders to reject government repression
By Laura Wides-Muñoz

AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

A coalition of Cuban exile groups launched a campaign Tuesday urging Cubans on the island not to participate in attacks on those who speak out against the Cuban government.

The groups said the campaign comes in response to requests by political prisoners and activists in Cuba, as well as evidence that growing numbers of Cubans are already refusing to join so-called acts of repudiation against their fellow citizens.

"Every dictator needs its civil society to maintain the dictatorship," said Angel De Fana, head of a group of former Cuban political prisoners who work with dissidents on the island.

De Fana's group, and the other coalition members - Mothers Against Repression and the Cuban Democratic Directorate - said their goal is to let people in and outside of Cuba know about the those involved in civil disobedience there.

The Directorate, which documents peaceful resistance to the Cuban government, reported 3,314 verified acts of civil disobedience in 2005, as compared to 444 in 2000. The Directorate also documented more than a dozen instances in the last year when neighbors refused to participate in the repudiations.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International expressed concern about an upsurge in the repudiation attacks, which it described as large groups of government supporters who yell at, intimidate, physically assault or throw objects at the home of anyone considered to be counterrevolutionary.

The coalition's campaign is based on a series of six signs with stick-figure drawings showing people informing on each other, mobs beating a person and groups listening to a political speech, accompanied by the messages such as "I will not inform," and "I will not attend."

In a statement distributed by the coalition, activist Yuniesky Garcia Lopez, a 21-year-old member of the opposition Cuban Liberal Party called on other youth not to participate in such attacks.

"I want to urge all the youth on the island not to collaborate with the repressive organs of the state and to increase each day the number of youth in opposition groups on the island," Garcia said. "We young people are the ones who can bring forward change in this country..."

The campaign comes weeks after a commission appointed by President Bush published recommendations calling for the names of people believed to be involved in orchestrating human rights abuses in Cuba be entered into U.S. government data bases to ensure they do not receive U.S. visas.


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