Cuban Dissidents Occupy Church in Havana

March 15, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Cubans walk next to Our Lady of Charity church, occupied by 13 Cuban oppositors on March 14, 2012 in Havana. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of dissidents have occupied a major Catholic church in the Cuban capital of Havana, demanding that the Cuban regime change its human rights situation, according to media reports.

The dissents, numbering 13, occupied the Church of Charity of Cobre originally to demand an audience with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits communist-ruled Cuba later this month, but changed their demands on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

Fred Calderon, one of the dissidents, told AP that they want Benedict to address Cuba on its human rights situation and current political climate, and for Cuba to release political prisoners.

“We would like to talk to the Pope and tell him that the government of Fidel and Raul (Castro) has released only some prisoners, but other political prisoners remain,” said William Cepera, another dissident, according to the BBC.

The Catholic Church said it was against the protesters’ occupation of the Havana church and that they should leave.

“This was also transmitted to the group of occupants, and the offer was made to drive them to their homes in church automobiles. Every attempt to persuade them was useless,” reads a communique from the Catholic Church, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.