Cuba’s new president takes another crack at restoring ties with the U.S.

Activists are protesting in the streets of Havana after overnight raids by state security. The crackdown came a day after President Miguel Diaz-Canel was inaugurated as the Cuban president, a day officials had hoped…

Cuba’s new president takes another crack at restoring ties with the U.S.

Activists are protesting in the streets of Havana after overnight raids by state security. The crackdown came a day after President Miguel Diaz-Canel was inaugurated as the Cuban president, a day officials had hoped would mark a new era in the country’s relations with the U.S.

A group of women from the Ladies in White, a group that has been leading protests against restrictions on freedom of expression in Cuba, blockaded the doors of their own homes on Thursday morning.

Violence against women has become commonplace during the presidency of Raul Castro. When anti-government protests took place in 2015, three of the women who participated were arrested. The arrests came after activists of the same group were assaulted by a gang of men when they went to carry out their protests.

Diaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, was inaugurated as the country’s new leader on Wednesday, ending more than six decades of rule by his brother Fidel Castro. He won a congressionally-approved historic vote of confidence in March, amid predictions that the new president, 57, would be the best hope for normalizing relations with the U.S.

But just days before the inauguration, Mr. Diaz-Canel issued a decree removing Cuba’s first, and to date only, gay-friendly newspaper, Siglo XXI, which had already been forced to make several cuts in recent months after declining readership.

Most Cubans remained largely silent on the issue. And, on a day when Mr. Diaz-Canel made an historic speech in the Senate, which paved the way for a possible delegation visit to Washington, few observers expected there to be widespread reaction.

However, just after 8 p.m. on Wednesday, just as Mr. Diaz-Canel had ended his speech, several cars broke through a line of security vehicles, entering a compound of ministries around the Miramar, the main university campus in Havana. With firefighters trying to extinguish a fire in a building, state security detained about 25 people as they gathered to protest.

According to reporters present, a news reporter for a private television channel who had been filming outside the compound said state security had “detained all but eight” of the protesters, suggesting that many had been beaten. However, without independent verification, it remains unclear how many people, if any, were forced out of their homes on the night of the raid.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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