Well, that was fast. On Tuesday, President Obama addressed Cubans about the importance of human rights and peaceful dialogue. On Thursday, pro-democracy demonstrators in Havana were beaten and arrested by Cuban police agents just steps away from where Obama had spoken.

The demonstration occurred three blocks from the Grand Theater of Havana, where Obama spoke live to the Cuban nation, and was swiftly broken up by plainclothes officers, who attacked demonstrators violently and then stuffed those they had captured into police cars and swept them away within moments. This reporter witnessed the brutal arrests of two demonstrators during the midafternoon eruption of public dissent in one of the most public forums in the city.

According to witnesses, a small group of demonstrators had entered a park on San Rafael Street, the most popular of Havana’s newly opened Wi-Fi hotspots, where hundreds of people were busily connecting to the Internet or placing international calls over VOIP services. It is unclear how many participated in the demonstration or were arrested; attracted by a loud, angry crowd that had formed on one of the city’s principal avenues and was filming the arrests, I arrived on the scene too late to see the original incident but witnessed part of the aggressive police response.

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