Two high-profile Cuban dissidents have claimed they were prevented by security forces from taking up an invitation to attend the Pope’s vespers service at the Cathedral of Havana on Sunday, according to reports.
Marta Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva have said they were invited by the office of the papal ambassador in Havana to attend the service but were arrested as they traveled to the cathedral.
Roque said she was also invited by the Vatican to meet Pope Francis at the ambassador’s residence after the Pontiff’s arrival on Saturday, but she was held at that time by security services. She was then released before being detained again on Sunday, according to Associated Press.
“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the Plaza of the Cathedral,” Roque said.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi has confirmed that some dissidents were invited to events where they would be greeted by Pope Francis, but they did not show up. He said he could not confirm whether this was because they were prevented from attending.
Meanwhile, four other dissidents opposed to Cuba’s Communist regime were arrested as they tried to reach Pope Francis as he arrived at Mass in Revolution Square on Sunday on the popemobile, according to an activist group.
The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba said that Zaqueo Baéz, Boris Reni, Aymara Nieto Muñoz and Maria Josefa Acon Sardiña, member of the Felix Varela cell of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, were all arrested.