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Obama meets Cuban dissidents Coco Fariñas and Berta Soler


Coco Fariñas with President Barack Obama and Jorge Mas Santos

President Obama meets with Cuban dissident leaders and exiles at a fundraising event for the Democratic Party in Miami.

On a visit to Miami to raise money for the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama met with Cuban opposition leaders on Friday.
Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, and Guillermo "Coco" Fariñas, both recipients of the Sakharov Prize, met with the president at the home of Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation.
Speaking in advance of meeting the president, Fariñas said he considered it important that Obama, as president of the United States, is recognizing internal dissent and was going to ask the President that he not negotiate with the Castro dictatorship under any circumstances.
Fariñas told TV Marti, citing Lech Walesa, that "when a dictatorship is approaching the end, it becomes aggressive and bloody " .
"All of the opposition in Cuba is being attacked, defamed and is in danger of death," said Fariñas.

He reiterated that Cuba is one, living both inside and outside the island simultaneously, and added that he would ask the President to take that into account so as not to negotiate with the Cuban dictatorship.
Meanwhile, Berta Soler said the government of Cuba "does not listen to anyone, neither the dissents nor the people," but said that her requests to President Obama, as well as Fariñas' on behalf of the people of Cuba, can become a reality.

"God has opened doors and given me the possibility to meet with President Obama and it is very important, because it is good that he listen to us."
Soler insisted that they are only asking for moral and spiritual support for the people of Cuba and that the freedom of the island depends on the Cuban people, but it's good to have the support of governments.

Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, described the event as "very special", as has the presence of Berta Soler and his "dear friend Guillermo Fariñas." Mas Santos said it is was a privilege that the U.S. president be able to know firsthand the work of the Cuban opposition and work together to increase the opposition's size, the resources to expand civil society and accelerate change in Cuba.

According to AP's Josh Ledereman, "Obama says the U.S. has started to see changes on the island," and that "U.S. policy aims will remain the same but the nation must find new tools to speak out."
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