Cuba's Ladies in White say celebration blocked
Published September 24, 2012
The dissident Ladies in White group denounced repressive action by the
Cuban government to keep its members from taking part in activities they
organized to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, patroness of
"The purpose of the repression is to keep us from taking part in the
four days of activities honoring former political prisoners" that began
Friday with a Mass in remembrance of deceased Cuban dissidents like
Laura Pollan, Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero," Ladies in White
spokeswoman Berta Soler told Efe.
More than 40 Ladies in White from different provinces, according to the
dissident, were stopped from traveling to Havana and were sent back home.
"We don't know where some of them are," Soler said Sunday.
The homes of some 12 members who live in Havana "were under siege by
state security forces, and when they came outside they were arrested,
while others were detained (Sunday) before reaching Santa Rita Church,
The street where the group has its headquarters at the home of its late
leader Laura Pollan in the Centro Habana neighborhood, is blocked to
traffic and police are allowing no pedestrians to enter unless they live
in that avenue, Soler said.
Soler made her statement upon leaving Mass in the Havana parish of Santa
Rita, where the group goes every Sunday after making a peaceful march on
behalf of human rights and freedom for political prisoners.
Some 30 women attended the religious service on Sunday and then marched
down Fifth Avenue in the Cuban capital.
The group was to hold a vigil to Our Lady of Mercy later and on Monday
planned to go to the church of the same name to plead for freedom for
political prisoners and human rights, Soler said.
The Ladies in White movement was founded to demand the release of
opposition members of the so-called "Group of 75," who were sentenced to
prison for up to 28 years during the government crackdown known as the
"Black Spring" of 2003, accused of conspiring with the United States.
The last 52 dissidents of that group of prisoners were freed between
mid-2010 and early 2011 following a negotiation of the island's
government with the Catholic Church.
The Cuban government considers members of the internal dissidence to be
"counterrevolutionaries" and "mercenaries" doing the bidding of the
United States. EFE