Life in Cuba 7
A man walks near a sign with an image of Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana.Stringer/Reuters

The US government has criticised its Cuban counterpart for the first time since the historic rapprochement between the two countries earlier this month, following the arrest of several dissidents in Havana.

Antonio Rodiles, Eliezer Avila and Reinaldo Escobar were arrested along with a number of other dissidents prior to a planned free-speech demonstration in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion.

The activists were arrested yesterday [30 December], shortly before Tania Bruguera, a popular local performing artist, was set to perform in an open-mic night in the square.

The US State Department have released a statement, criticising the Cuban government for the arrests.

"We are deeply worried by the latest reports of arrests by the Cuban authorities of peaceful members of civil society and activists," said the State Department statement.

"We strongly condemn the continued harassment of the Cuban government and repeated recourse to arbitrary detention, sometimes with violence to silence critics, disrupt peaceful meetings and freedom of expression, and intimidate citizens."

News of the arrests quickly spread after prominent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez revealed on Twitter that her husband, Escobar, had been detained in the wave of repression.

"They are taking away my husband," Sanchez tweeted about hearing that Escobar, editor of dissident website 154medio.com, had been arrested.

Some of the detained activists have subsequently been released.