Democracy Now! April 9, 2003

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Democracy Now! April 9, 2003
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Looting breaks out near Baghdad as the presence of the Iraqi government diminishes: We talk to AFP reporter Ezzadin Said in the Palestine Hotel; 80 dissidents arrested in Cuba in most widespread political crackdown since the 1960s: A debate between the Cuban embassy and the wife of a jailed journalist.

Story: LOOTING BREAKS OUT NEAR BAGHDAD AS THE PRESENCE OF THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT DIMINISHES: WE TALK TO AFP REPORTER EZZADIN SAID IN THE PALESTINE HOTEL Looting has broken out in the impoverished Baghdad suburb of Saddam City as a crowd of Iraqis cheered the arrival of US troops there. As U.S. forces moved through one neighborhood after another in the Shia suburb, residents seized the chance to plunder military installations and government buildings. They took computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, furniture, even Iraqi jeeps. The Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has not yet arrived at the Palestine Hotel for his daily press briefing. Nor have the government minders shown up to accompany journalists. Iraqi state television went off the air. The Pentagon says almost an entire armored brigade - several thousand troops - is now in Baghdad, and it intends to stay there. The Pentagon plans to double the troop presence there in the next 24 hours. US troops are expanding their control over the city block by block. Iraqi resistance is much lower than before. But marines are continuing to battle snipers. And Iraqi fighters in buses and trucks are crossing the Tigris to attack US troops. US Central Command spokesman Captain Frank Thorpe says the coalition continues to be cautious and warned of tough days ahead. Earlier, Senior British military spokesman Group Captain Al Lockwood said it is too early to say the Iraqi regime has crumbled. Reuters is reporting Iraqis are asking today who is running their country. There is no sign of police or government authority on the streets of central Baghdad. One shopkeeper asked a Reuters correspondent: "To whom do we belong now?" Ezzedin Said, AFP reporter in Baghdad. Story: DISSIDENTS ARRESTED IN CUBA IN MOST WIDESPREAD POLITICAL CRACKDOWN SINCE THE 1960S: A DEBATE BETWEEN THE CUBAN EMBASSY AND THE WIFE OF A JAILED JOURNALIST It has been described as the most widespread crackdown on political dissent in Cuba since the 1960s. While the invasion of Iraq began half a world away three weeks ago, nearly 80 political dissidents were quietly arrested in Cuba. They have already been tried in court and some have been sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. International human rights organizations have condemned the arrests and the speedy trials. They have accused Cuba of targeting human rights activists, independent journalists and other dissidents. Meanwhile Cuban officials have charged the arrested individuals were traitors who had conspired with the United States to subvert Castro's government. The Associated Press has pointed out that independent journalists received some of the harshest sentences. Reporter and photographer Omar Rodriguez Saludes was sentenced to 27 years in jail. 20-year sentences were handed down to poet and writer Raul Rivero, magazine editor Ricardo Gonzalez and economics writer Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Well we are joined today by Chepe's wife, Miriam Leyva who is joining us on the phone from Cuba. We are also joined by Fernando Garcia Bielsa, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section. Fernando Garcia-Bielsa, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section, which functions as a Cuban embassy in the United States. Miriam Leyva, wife of jailed economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. (Complete rundowns missing on WebDacs)

Date Recorded on: 
April 9, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
April 9, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., April 9, 2003
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