[JURIST] Dissident groups, such as the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said Sunday that the Cuban government imprisoned more than 6,000 political activists last year. This is more than 2,000 more than were arrested in 2011. Most prisoners are released within a few days, but the groups claim this strategy is being used to prevent dissent from growing [USA Today report]. However, protesters of Las Damas de Blanco, and other groups, are becoming more willing to protest in the street despite the fear of persecution at the hands of the police. Even with the number of protesters seemingly growing, most believe it is unlikely a popular uprising, resembling the Arab Spring [JURIST news archive], in Cuba in the near future.
Cuba has had a history of suppressing political dissent [HRW backgrounder] through criminal prosecutions. Last August Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on Cuba to end its harassment [JURIST report] of political opposition. Both AI and the US criticized [JURIST report] Cuba for how it treated political opposition last July. In December 2011 the government announced [JURIST report] that it would grant amnesty to and release 2,900 prisoners, including political prisoners. The announcement came in the wake of a scheduled visit by Pope Benedict XVI.