Cuban Church evicts 13 protestors ahead of papal visit
Mar 16, 2012, 20:37 GMT
Havana - The Cuban Roman Catholic Church evicted 13 dissidents who had occupied a church in Havana to protest against the Cuban government ahead of a visit to the country by Pope Benedict XVI.
According to a statement that the Archdiocese of Havana made public Friday, the eviction was carried out late Thursday by the Cuban security forces.
The 13 activists, members of the banned Republican Party of Cuba, had occupied Tuesday the church in the Centro Habana neighbourhood of the Cuban capital. They demanded social and political change in the communist country.
'After more than 48 hours of uninterrupted and unauthorized stay (...) the 13 occupants were withdrawn from that sacred place,' the statement said.
The operation to evict them lasted less than 10 minutes, church officials said.
'The 13 occupants were invited to leave ... and did not resist,' the statement said.
On Tuesday, the protestors handed in to church authorities a message with petitions for Benedict.
In recent days, church officials had warned that 'no one has the right to turn temples into political trenches.'
The pope is scheduled to visit Cuba March 26-28. Cuban dissidents have for weeks demanded that he meet with them during his stay, with no confirmation of any such meetings to date.
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