- The Washington Times - Monday, July 26, 2021

Foreign ministers from the U.S. and 20 other nations condemned the mass arrest and detention of Cubans participating in a wave of protests against the communist regime and the deprivations they face on the island.

The State Department said demonstrators must be released and be able to share information over the web and in the press.

“We call on the Cuban government to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the Cuban people without fear of arrest and detention,” the joint statement said. “We urge the Cuban government to release those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful protest. We call for press freedom and for the full restoration of Internet access, which allows economies and societies to thrive. We urge the Cuban government to heed the voices and demands of the Cuban people.”

Other signers included ministers from Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, South Korea and Ukraine.

Protesters in Cuba have cried “Libertad,” or “freedom,” and for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down as they face deteriorating conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The street marches, the largest in decades, have sparked a crackdown from the oppressive government and raised concerns abroad.

Some Cubans say the Biden administration needs to offer more tangible assistance. The White House has said it is looking for ways to do that without enriching the communist government.

As first lady Jill Biden returned Monday to the White House from the Tokyo Olympics, her motorcade passed a demonstrator on the National Mall who said, “No negotiation with the Cuban regime.”

Congressional Republicans will highlight the Cuba issue during a Washington demonstration on Tuesday that serves as counter-programming to the first hearing of the committee probing the Jan. 6 riot at the  U.S. Capitol.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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