Hoping to spark in Cuba the kind of anti-government protests now wracking Egypt, a Facebook group created by exiles is calling for a "popular uprising" -- and getting no traction among the island's dissidents.
"There are no conditions for that here,'' said Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz. "Anyone who moves here goes to prison. No matter if it's 20 or 20,000.''
Facebook's Por el Levantamiento Popular en Cuba has drawn some interest, with several hundred comments since it was created Jan. 26 and by Wednesday had more than 600 members. CNN-Chile and Spanish and Dutch journalists have reported on the group.
"Without violence, with the people going into the streets not only on the island but in front of (Cuban) consulates and embassies, lighting a spark to provoke a social explosion that moves Cuba toward democracy,'' its statement of purpose declared.
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"To promote the right of anyone to peacefully protest in the streets of Cuba, as one more way of exercising freedom of expression. A right that governments should guarantee,'' it added.
Joel García, an exile blogger living in Spain's Canary Islands, said he created the group with Frank Prieto, a Cuban actor living in northern Spain, in hopes of sparking ``something spontaneous.''
The vast majority of the comments on the group's page appeared to come from visitors outside Cuba, though one visitor who hinted that he was a University of Havana student wrote, "let's make the regime shake. so that our grandchildren will be proud of what we do today.''
One comment from a visitor who identified himself as a university student in Malaga, Spain and proclaimed "Death to the Castros,'' called for coordinated protests in Cuba and abroad on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m.
Sánchez Santacruz, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said he had not heard of the Facebook group and that the Cuban government's news media monopoly was reporting very little on the Egypt riots.
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