The state dinner is over. The salsa band played its last song.

The baseball game is over. The last pitch was thrown.

The sensationalism in over. Elitist businessmen ate all the pâté at the military's Hotel Saratoga.

All that's left is for Cuba's courageous dissidents to pay the price for Obama's trip to Cuba.

And what a price they paid this weekend.

Over 300 Cuban dissidents were arrested over the weekend in what the Castro regime has dubbed Operacion Fortaleza(Operation Strength).


It was a display of gross brutality.

In Havana, there were over 100 arrests, including 30 members of The Ladies in White.

In the eastern provinces of Santiago, Las Tunas and Guantanamo, over 150 members of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPCU) were arrested.

In the central province of Matanzas, dozens more were arrested.

Member of The Ladies in White, including Annia Zamora and Sisy Abascal were beaten on the floor with cables. Abascal's younger sister, a minor, was arrested.

Marisela Aleman was stripped of her clothes and whipped.

Yunia Pupo suffered an arm fracture, as she was hit with a washing machine's rubber belt.

Others like Felix Navarro, a Varela Project leader, was brutally beaten in retaliation for presenting 10,000 new signatures seeking a democratic plebiscite.

Throughout Sunday, the cellular phones of Cuban democracy leaders were blocked, as the wave of repression began -- courtesy of Castro's telecom monopoly, ETECSA (Sprint and Verizon's new partner).

By relegating Cuba's dissidents to a secondary role, the Obama Administration is making a tragic and costly mistake.

The Castro regime knows that they can't cede one inch to these courageous dissidents -- for 300 this weekend, will become 3,000 next weekend, and 300,000 the following.

Moreover, these aren't "cuentapropistas" who can be controlled with a license and a token concession.

These are democrats in the noble pursuit of justice and freedom for all Cubans. They are the ones suffering in their own skin every dollar invested in Castro's military business conglomerates.

They are the ones we should be "empowering."