The recent crackdown on the Ladies in White protest marchers, the latest in a string of abuses in Cuba, might delay or derail congressional efforts to ease sanctions on the Castro government, even supporters of a thaw acknowledge.
"Those who want to unconditionally lift sanctions were already in an uphill climb for votes, and all this will definitely not help them," said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the pro-embargo U.S.-Cuba Democracy political action committee.
By "all this" he referred not just to the crackdown on peaceful marchers, but to the Feb. 23 death of jailed dissident Orlando Zapata amid a hunger strike and the detention of U.S. subcontractor Alan P. Gross since Dec. 3.
International condemnations rained down on Havana for the Zapata and Ladies in White cases. President Barack Obama blasted Cuban authorities last week, saying they "continue to respond to the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched fist."
Cuba dismissed Zapata as a "common criminal" and the Ladies in White, who demand the release of their jailed relatives, as part of an organized media campaign designed to highlight U.S.-financed "mercenaries" out to topple the communist system.
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