The Castro regime detained a record number of Cuban dissidents and political activists last year, a human rights watch group said Monday.
In 2014, 8,899 short-term detentions of dissidents and activists were recorded by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. That's nearly 2,000 more than the previous year, and four times as many as in 2010, according to the group's head, Elizardo Sanchez, reported The Associated Press.
Short-term detentions can last for as short as a few hours and as long as a few days, but do not result in prison time. Some activists have been detained several times in a single month, which has lowered the total number of people detained.
The number of political activists currently being held in prison is down nearly half from five years ago, Sanchez said, with about 90 people currently serving time.
Cuba has a history of accusing dissidents of being agents of the U.S. government working to overthrow the regime, subjecting them to surveillance, temporary detention and harassment, AP reported.
President Obama said he believes the effort to ease the embargo on Cuba along with normalizing diplomatic relations could help support Cuban civil society, and some experts believe that mending the strained relationship could help prevent the repression of domestic dissidents.
However, Sanchez said Monday that he doesn't expect much change to occur in the short term when it comes to Cuba's treatment of political activists, and Obama has made clear that he is "under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans."
On December 10, International Human Rights Day, the Cuban government arrested over 120 political dissidents from across the island, reported the PanAm Post.
Included in the arrests were 67 members of the organization Ladies in White, a group of spouses of political prisoners, and at least two journalists. Several activists were also reportedly attacked by special forces.