US Demands Release Of Cuba Rapper After Rare Protests

(AFP) — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday demanded the release of a Cuban rapper whose arrest sparked protests, and urged other nations to press human rights with the communist island.

Denis Solis Gonzalez was arrested on November 9 and quickly sentenced to eight months in prison on contempt charges after he livestreamed himself talking back to an officer who tried to enter his home without permission.

“We urge the Cuban government to dismiss this unjust sentence and release him without condition,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo also denounced Cuban authorities for arresting journalists and members of the San Isidro Movement, a group of artists who have resisted orders to report to the culture ministry, after they inquired about Solis.

“We call on democratic partners around the world to raise their voices and make respect for human rights a prerequisite for any dealings with the Castro regime,” Pompeo said, referring to late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother, former president Raul Castro.

President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration has pushed a hard line on Cuba, pleasing many Cuban Americans in the politically crucial state of Florida.

President-elect Joe Biden has promised to ease Trump’s restrictions on remittances and travel to the island but also to press for the release of all political prisoners.

Former president Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, opened diplomatic relations with Cuba as he declared the half-century effort to topple the communist government to be a failure.