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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 18:34 GMT


World: Americas

Castro warning to dissidents


The Cuban President, Fidel Castro, who will host next week's Ibero-American summit in Havana, has sent a warning to dissidents planning demonstrations around the event.

In a seven-hour meeting with foreign and local journalists, President Castro said the authorities would not hesitate to stop what he called illegal activities.

His comments came after police and government supporters beat and chased a small group of dissidents who tried to stage a demonstration on Wednesday.

Angry clashes broke out yesterday in Havana, when a group of dissidents tried to stage a public anti-government protest.

Dissident groups have said they want to use next week's Ibero-American summit to publicise their opposition to Fidel Castro's Communist government.

Immediate clampdown

Their first attempt to do so was dealt with sharply by the authorities.

About 10 dissidents turned up at a park in Havana to stage a small public protest but they found the park filled with a crowd of government supporters who barred them entry.

Several of the dissidents were pushed, beaten and chased away. At least three were arrested by police, who were also at the scene in strength.

The government supporters said they were there to prevent what they called sabotage of the Ibero-American summit. Heads of state from Spain, Portugal and across Latin America will be in Havana next week.

'Detained'

Fidel Castro has repeatedly accused all government opponents of being traitors in the pay of Washington.

Opposition human rights monitors say 15 to 20 opponents have already been detained this week, apparently to forestall further protests.

Some of the pro-government crowd said they were also marching to celebrate their victory in the United Nations.

The UN voted on Tuesday by 155 to two to condemn the United States economic embargo against Cuba.

Most of Washington's European allies supported the resolution.



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