With Papal visit quickly approaching, Castro regime cranks up repression on dissidents

Yesterday, the Castro dictatorship sent throngs of violent and insulting thugs to attack prominent dissidents on the island. The home of one of the leaders of the Ladies in White Laura Pollan was surrounded by a government controlled mob to threaten and intimidate the Ladies in White to make sure they do not mess with the theatrical performance the regime, the Church in Cuba, and the Vatican have planned for the Pope’s visit. As of yesterday, their leader, Berta Soler, along with several other Ladies in White, have disappeared.

The closer the date of the visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba comes, the Cuban dictatorship is becoming more nervous and aggressive. The papal visit is one of those rare occasions where the tyrannical, repressive, and murderous Castro regime has an opportunity to portray themselves as a wonderful bunch of loving and sensible guys. The news organizations will help them portray themselves as such, the Church in Cuba will most definitely help them, and it appears the Vatican is willing to play along in this vile charade as well. It is the opposition in Cuba that is refusing to participate in this perverse theatrical production, and they are paying the price for it.

Via AFP:

HAVANA: A crowd of about 100 pro-regime activists rallied on Saturday outside the home of a leader of the prominent Cuban dissident group Ladies in White, with political tensions rising ahead of next week’s visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

“The counterprotest started (around 2000 GMT) when about 20 of us went outside to march through the city. But about two blocks away, our people were blocked and we don’t know where they are,” a member of the dissident group said privately, The Ladies in White are the wives and female relatives of jailed dissidents. The group of marchers was led by Bertha Soler, sources said. When AFP sought to contact her by cellular phone, it was not in service.

The 2005 Sakharov Prize-winning group for years has pressed for the release of political prisoners – including their loved ones – in the Americas’ only one-party communist-ruled state. They often dress in white and march carrying gladiolas, and attend Roman Catholic services.

For three days, the group has been meeting in the Havana home of its former leader Laura Pollan, who died last October.

The group, founded in 1983, has not eased up in its anti-government stand when the government freed about 30 political prisoners after mediation by the local Roman Catholic church.

Cubans dissidents more broadly have been gearing up their activities ahead of the visit to Cuba by the pope from March 26-28. Benedict, 84, will offer mass in Santiago and Havana, and meet with President Raul Castro, 80.

Former prisoner of conscience Angel Moya has a report on the attack against the Ladies in White directly from Cuba on Hablalo Sin Miedo (my translation):

Repressive forces organized an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White in Havana. Berta Soler and several Laides in White have disappeared. From Havana this is Angel Moya Acosta, political prisoner and prisoner of conscience

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