Human Rights and Civil Society in Focus as Kerry Pulls out of Trip to Cuba

By Sarah Akbar

The State Department announced Friday that Secretary Kerry would not be accompanying President Obama on his trip to Cuba later this month, raising suspicions that there were disagreements over which dissidents the President would be allowed to meet. Shortly after Kerry’s announcement, the White House was firm in its view that the President alone would decide which members of civil society he would meet. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights reported that 1,414 political arrests occurred in Cuba in the month of January, and U.S. Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen brought up that more than 8,000 people had been allegedly arbitrarily arrested since the two countries decided to normalize relations in December of 2014.