Friday, December 10, 2010

Pro-govt crowd shouts down protesters in Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 12.09.10
Pro-govt crowd shouts down protesters in Cuba
The Associated Press

HAVANA -- A Cuban opposition group marched through the capital to call
attention to jailed dissidents Thursday, amid a shower of jeers, insults
and pro-government slogans from counterprotesters.

About five dozen members of the Ladies in White and their supporters
held one of their customary protests on the eve of International Human
Rights Day, leaving from the home of leader Laura Pollan and marching to
a public park.

A crowd formed to follow and harangue the women, calling them "worms"
and "traitors." "Viva la revolucion!" they shouted, and "This street
belongs to Fidel!"

The pro-government crowd grew to about 100 as the march continued. One
motorist stopped his car and got out to join them.

State security agents were on hand. There was some pushing and shoving,
but nobody was hurt.

When the march ended back at Pollan's home, the pro-government crowd
melted away.

The Ladies in White was formed in 2003 by the wives and mothers of 75
leading political opposition leaders, activists and social commentators
who were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges
including treason. The government alleges that all the dissidents are
paid by Washington to undermine the political system.

Most of those arrested have since been released, many under an agreement
brokered by the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year.

Church officials have said they expect the last 11 to be freed soon,
even though a Nov. 8 deadline to complete the deal has passed.

Pro-government "acts of repudiation" against dissidents happen a few
times a year, but there have been none since the church agreement was
announced July 7.

In December 2009, government supporters broke up two tiny marches
observing International Human Rights Day and chased away a British
diplomat on hand to observe, pounding on his car as he drove away.

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