HAVANA, March 16 (UPI) -- Cuban government opponents who have been inside a Havana church since Tuesday to demand political and social changes have been removed, Catholic officials said.
Church officials confirmed Friday the 13 dissidents had been removed from the Minor Basilica of the Church of Our Lady of Charity, The Miami Herald reported.
The dissidents had refused to leave after "unilateral" requests from church officials and others, a church statement said.
For that reason, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, asked government officials to "invite" the occupants to leave the church, the statement said.
Ortega was assured they would be safe once outside the church, the statement said.
The group had been demanding release of political prisoners, Internet access and talks on creating the rule of law in Cuba, the Herald said.
The eviction took place at 9 p.m. Thursday and lasted 10 minutes, the statement said.
El Nuevo Herald noted the dissidents made their demands two weeks before Pope Benedict XVI's scheduled two-day visit to Cuba.