Cuban dissidents who had occupied a church in Havana to demand an audience with Pope Benedict when he visits later this month, have been evicted. The group of 13 want the Pope to press Cuba’s communist government on issues such as the release of political prisoners and an end to repression.
The protesters were removed from the Church of Charity in central Havana late on Thursday at the request of the city’s cardinal.
The Pope is due in Cuba on 26 March.
“Cardinal Jaime Ortega addressed the competent authorities to invite the occupiers to abandon the sanctuary,” Roman Catholic Church spokesman Orlando Marquez said in a statement.
The dissidents were removed without resistance, it added.
The group of eight women and five men had entered the church on Tuesday night, occupying an area off-limits to worshippers.
Pope Benedict has not announced any plans to meet Cuban dissidents during his trip.
His trip will begin in the eastern city of Santiago, where he will meet Cuban President Raul Castro.
During his time on the island, he will also visit the shrine of the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre and travel to Havana, where he will say mass in the main plaza.