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Pro, Anti-Castro Activists Demonstrate in New York - 2003-05-18

In New York Saturday, pro and anti-Fidel Castro activists demonstrated across from the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. At the same time, a coalition of Cuban-American artists and writers condemned Cuba's latest crackdown on dissidents.

The artists' coalition says the recent wave of repression against independent journalists, human rights activists in Cuba should convince even Mr. Castro's staunchest supporters of the oppressive nature of his government. In March, the Castro government sentenced 75 dissidents to lengthy prison terms and executed three men who allegedly attempted to hijack a ferry to sail to the United States.

The artists' coalition issued a statement asking governments to demand freedom for the imprisoned dissidents and to take steps to end the Castro government. Cuban-American actress Carmen Pelaez read the statement.

"We also ask that the governments, institutions, and people throughout the world distance themselves from this regime, denounce it as a pariah state, and work actively for its removal from power," she said.

Around the corner from the news briefing, pro-Castro groups rallied in support of the Cuban government. Andree Kahlmorgan says she marches because she supports the Cuban Revolution.