Families of jailed Cuban protesters blocked from meeting US officials amid US ‘apology’ Read more
The Cubans were due to meet US ambassador James Costos on Monday to discuss the crisis facing young activists in Cuba and the US government’s response. The teenagers have been on hunger strike in Cuba for over a year to protest the authorities’ failure to free them.
The teenagers were arrested along with other activists in April 2013 and have spent nearly three years in prison. They are demanding improved living and educational conditions for students and an end to the economic embargo imposed on the island by the US on Havana.
The US has issued a US$1.2m (£775,000) payment to Cuba to “help with the legal assistance of the Cuban authorities”. However, the teenager’s lawyers have said this is insufficient, especially in light of the fact their cases are being reviewed by the Caribbean island’s supreme court.
The teenagers have also been refused medical treatment. It is not known whether they are being held, for their own protection, in the US or some other third country.
A letter of apology issued by the US embassy in Havana on Friday afternoon said the US government had “sincerely and regretfully” learned that the Cubans had been denied access to the US government for “years”.
“This is regrettable, as we value our relationship with Cuba and want to maintain it based on the shared values of democracy, open society and peaceful interactions across the centuries,” the letter said.
The Cubans have also been denied access to Cuban diplomats, the letter said.
The US government also offered “sincere apologies for the recent detention and forced removal of US citizen and Cuban dissident groups from Cuba”, the letter said.
It added that, “as a first step, the US government will continue to work with other diplomats