Yesterday, over seventy members of Cuba’s Ladies in White, a peaceful human rights group made up entirely of wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of Cuban political prisoners, were arrested by Cuban State Security as they silently marched down the streets of Cuba. It was the final culmination of an oppressive and despicable operation launched by the Cuban regime beginning on Saturday against the women and other prominent dissidents on the island. With the much heralded papal visit just over a week away, it is an amazing display of intolerance and malice by the Castro dictatorship, and no doubt a manifestation of their fear the pope’s visit may become a public triumph for Cuba’s courageous human rights activists instead of the public relations coup they are hoping for.
Cuba detains 70 Ladies in White ahead of pope visit
HAVANA, March 18 – Cuban authorities detained about 70 members of the dissident group Ladies in White over the weekend, including 18 who staged its weekly Sunday march in the Cuban capital.
The 18 women, dressed in their customary white clothing, were rounded up and taken away in buses after they left their permitted route through Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, said a Reuters cameraman on the scene.
Ladies in White member Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez told Reuters that 16 of the women were arrested Saturday evening when they attempted to stage a march in central Havana and another 36 were detained Sunday morning as they prepared to go to mass at Santa Rita Catholic Church, then stage their silent march along 5th Avenue, Miramar’s main boulevard.
They had gathered at the home of their deceased leader Laura Pollan over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the arrest of 75 government opponents in March 2003 that gave rise to the organization, Otero said.
Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez told Reuters that along with the estimated 70 women detained in Havana, another 12 dissidents were arrested in other provinces.
“The Ladies in White, or “Damas de Blanco” in Spanish, were the wives and mothers of the 75, who received lengthy sentences but have all been freed, most as part of a 2010 agreement brokered by the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in the release of 130 political prisoners.
The AP has more coverage of this atrocity HERE.
According to the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the visit by Pope Benedict XVI will revive faith on the island and leave a lasting spiritual change. But in light of the Cardinal’s cozy and friendly relationship with the Castro government along with his public renouncement and forsaking of Cuba’s peaceful human rights activists, one has to wonder what faith and what spiritual change he has in mind. No man can know what is truly in the heart of Cardinal Ortega, but reasonable assumptions can be made from his previous history. And based on the Cuban Cardinal’s ignoble history, none of those assumptions bode well for Cuba’s Catholics or the Cuban people in general.