Cuba authorities arrested human rights defenders ahead of President Obama visit
There were positive and negative developments for Cuban civil society as a result of US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in March 2016. During the visit, he publicly pledged to “speak out on behalf of universal human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly and religion.” On 22nd March, President Obama met directly with selected representatives of Cuban civil society to discuss the growing role of civil society in Cuba.
However, in the run up to President Obama’s visit, more than 50 members of the Ladies in White organisation were arrested while hosting a peaceful protest in Havana. Ladies in White is a group of the wives and other female relatives of imprisoned activists, human rights defenders and journalists, who protest each Sunday in the capital, Havana. It is also believed numerous civil society leaders were held under house arrest during President Obama's three-day visit.