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Posted March 16, 2010 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By Nelson Acosta and Jeff Franks | Reuters

Cuban government supporters harassed and shouted at members of the opposition group “Ladies in White” on Tuesday in Havana as the women marched in protest against the 2003 imprisonment of 75 dissidents.

The women, numbering about two dozen and dressed in white, had to be protected by state security agents after they stopped and yelled “Freedom, Freedom!” in front of the headquarters of the Cuban state journalists union.

The dissidents were marching for the second day in a protest to commemorate the 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown by the government against opponents.

About 150 men and women began walking alongside and shouting them down in what is known in Cuba as an “act of repudiation,” usually directed against government opponents.

“Viva Fidel! Viva Raul! The street belongs to the Revolution!” the government supporters shouted, referring to the 1959 Revolution led by Fidel Castro which subsequently installed a communist system in Cuba.

The women, who are wives and mothers of the Black Spring prisoners, were escorted by state security agents, who formed a protective cordon, to the Central Havana home of Ladies in White leader Laura Pollan.

Tuesday’s demonstration was the second of seven consecutive marches planned by the women’s group to mark the seventh anniversary of the Black Spring crackdown that began March 18, 2003 and drew widespread condemnation of Cuba.

The anniversary comes at a time when Cuba’s human rights record is under fire for the February 23 death of dissident hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo and for its handling of an ongoing hunger strike by dissident Guillermo Farinas in the central city of Santa Clara.

Farinas, who launched his strike three weeks ago to back demands for the release of 26 ailing political prisoners, has been in a hospital receiving fluids intravenously since he collapsed on Thursday.

A third hunger strike is underway by former political prisoner Orlando Fundora, who began eight days ago and is now in a hospital, his family said on Tuesday.


The Ladies in White staged their first march on Monday without incident. But Pollan said she had been warned by the government not to march to “sacred places” that included the state journalists’ center.

In December, the women were jostled and jeered by government supporters when they marched to mark International Human Rights Day.

Of the 75 people imprisoned in 2003, 52 remain behind bars.

Alejandrina Garcia, wife of prisoner Diosdado Gonzalez Marrero, who is serving a 20-year sentence, said Tuesday’s incident was not unexpected.

“What happened today is the same as always—government mobs repudiated us with government slogans, but we continued shouting ‘Freedom’ and “Zapata lives,” she told Reuters.

She said the Ladies in White would march again on Wednesday as planned, with the intention of visiting Fundora to encourage him to end his hunger strike.

A man whom Garcia identified as former political prisoner Hugo Damian Prieto was detained by security agents following a brief fracas with government supporters outside Pollan’s home.

Zapata’s death has become a rallying point for Cuba’s small dissident community and drawn international attention to their cause. The United States and Europe have condemned communist-led Cuba over the hunger strikes and called for the release of its estimated 200 political prisoners.

Cuba’s government, which views dissidents as mercenaries working for the United States and other enemies, has described Zapata and Farinas as common criminals. It has vowed to resist international pressure over the dissidents.

(Editing by Jeff Franks, Pascal Fletcher and Eric Walsh)

—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

So let me get this straight, the Cuban government calls out a gang of thugs for an “act of repudiation” against the Ladies in White then the Cuban government calls out security to protect and escort the Ladies in White?

Why didn’t the Cuban government just not call out the thugs in the first place? Now the story is making international news.

Maybe one branch of the government is calling out the thugs and another branch of government is calling out the security? I guess that would make sense.

One of these days something is going to go wrong and there will be a photograph that will represent the freedom movement.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on March 17, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    Perhaps the state security were called out in case violence would errupt between the ‘Ladies in White’ and the government paid thugs, ensuring the ‘Ladies in White’ would be arrested and jailed for speaking out and marching on ‘sacred places’.......
    Fortunately it was a peaceful rally and the thugs had the decency to not strike a woman.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on March 17, 2010 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    just rememebr it was similar in the 1960s in the USA south.
    Federal police had to protect blacks and civil rights marchers from state and local police.
    Is it schizo , yes, of course, but one may view that if the same government that is sending out police to protect the ladies from the same government as a sign of slow progress.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on March 17, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Not the same at all.

    The US government did not call out plain clothes citizens to harass the Blacks in the south. Big difference.

    Here, the Cuban government calls out the plain clothes citizens and the police.

    Cuba consulting services

  4. Follow up post #4 added on March 19, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Manfredz, I agree with you.  The Cuban government has NOTHING to gain from calling on people to harass the ladies.  On the contrary, they would have much to lose because of all the bad press and absolutely nothing to gain.

    Here’s something to think about…....I wonder if any of the hecklers are, in fact, opponents of the government who are attempting to stir trouble and thereby attract the bad publicity that we’re seeing in the media.  They have much to gain from this, unlike the government who has much to lose if things grow worse.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on March 19, 2010 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    Miami ...
    I in no way wanted to leave the impression that goons (aka concerned citizens) were NOT government supplied and controlled people following supplied impressions.  As I mentioned in my other post, thats how the Stasi in East Germany operate and I have no reason to believe Cuba operates different.
    Cant accept your theory that the hecklers were government opponents trying to get the government bad publicity - cant rule it out but too much of what I believe/concluded speaks against that.
    I am open to the suggestion that one branch of security forces instigated this confrontation while another wishes it hadnt happened because they are aware this gives Cuba both awareness and publicity that it does not wish to have.
    Just my 2 centavos worth.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 19, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    What could the government possibly gain by these confrontations?  This is an honest question…..I’d like an honest, reasoned opinion.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 19, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    It’s called repression in order to maintain control over the population so the Castro’s can keep their power.

    The fact that you even have to ask the question shows how ignorant you are.

    Cuba consulting services

  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 19, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    That’s a typical response on your part, Publisher, one I could have easily guessed at.

    So why not just make the ladies in white disappear altogether?  Wouldn’t THAT put an end to any and all protests?  Why invite the international media to a circus?

  9. Follow up post #9 added on March 19, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The Cuban government made their 75 husbands and sons disappear but you would call them common criminals or agents of the US and that the Cuban government was justified sending them to jail etc etc.

    Your brainwashed mind just can’t handle the truth and there really isn’t anything I can do about that other than to keep writing about the truth here.

    Cuba consulting services

  10. Follow up post #10 added on March 19, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    MiamiCastro, your silly questions show your complete ignorance about Cuban internal issues.

    “What could the government possibly gain by these confrontations?” Very simple, the Cuban people are afraid of the government, more than afraid they are terrified. That’s what the government gain. They have been able to control the whole population with terror. The only reason why only the ladies in white and a bunch of valorous Cubans oppose openly the government and not the whole people is only that they are terrorized.

    “So why not just make the ladies in white disappear altogether?  Wouldn’t THAT put an end to any and all protests?” They cannot do it because the Ladies in White are well known around the world and has been recognized with a prestigious human right prize by the European Union.

    “Why invite the international media to a circus?” Firstly, in case you do not know there are not a lot of media in Cuba, the one that are there have to play with the government rules and censorship. Many times the information about human rights abuses is not released by the Media but by the local blogs.
    This may look like a Circus to you, but to us the people that feel and suffer for the injustices in Cuba is very painful to see that still in this century a dictatorship can harass pacific human right protesters while people like you are still trying to find a justification.

  11. Follow up post #11 added on March 19, 2010 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    Governments are never static but are also evolving and changing.
    There was a time when the Ladies in White would simply have disappeared (or not even marched because tehy knew that would have happened), but Cuba has somewhat evolved past that - however is still far from where the would have been left alone to do their march.
    And am sure different power figures and different parts of teh complex security apparatus also have different ideas of how much freedom can be tolerated and as a result these contradictions occur.
    It would be nice if it were a steady evolution towards freedom but don’t think we’ll see that; instead we’re more likely to see two steps forward followed by one step back followed by two steps back followed by one step forward, so you never really know where you are in that progression today.
    But keep the following in mind - the old guard is dying off and the younger generations no longer satisfied to hear “look at how far we’ve gotten you from batista”
    So change is definitely coming - the big question is the how, where and when - we all know the why.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on April 08, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    manfredz wrote:
    “the old guard is dying off and the younger generations no longer satisfied to hear “look at how far we’ve gotten you from batista””

    .........to which the younger generations reply:  “Who is Batista?  We only know Castro!”..... it’s hard to demonize oppression that nobody remembers to legitimize the oppression they are currently made to suffer.

    Good thing Freedom and Liberty do not have to be remembered, they are eternal principals and ideals which the human mind and spirit strongly desires.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on April 08, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Hi Gringo, “free debate and thinking” would be the ideal state for all people everywhere.  I am 110% for this.  But one cannot compare what country “A” does with what country “B” or “C” does.  The political, social, cultural, and economic climate of a country are intertwined with the way a government is forced to deal with varying situations as they either surface on their own or are instigated.  I don’t know what the answers are for Cuba.  I don’t pretend to know which solutions would be best.  I do know that “freedoms” everywhere go through a revolving door, depending on the situation and circumstance.  For example, during the last presidential election, tensions in our office (in Miami) were running so high that we were not allowed to wear t-shirts , buttons, OR EVEN TALK about our preferred candidate.  Is this freedom?  No, of course not.  But I also understood that management wanted to avoid an escalation of tensions in the office that could ultimately culminate in someone getting hurt.  I didn’t like the situation, but I understood it.  We need to stop seeing things in black and white (especially with respect to Cuba), and start paying attention to the endless shades of gray.

    As for your question above, yes, it’s true that here in the U.S. we can sign petitions and attend rallies demanding better healthcare, etc.  That’s also easy to do in a country of 300 million people without really creating chaos.  (I do wonder what would happen if 30 million were to rally.  Would WE the people get what we want, or would those prisons that Halliburton is building suddenly fill up?)  I’m pretty sure that if you attended a rally that petitioned the release of Al-Queda prisoners, you could very well end up in Guantanamo—and without right to a lawyer.  My point is that everything is relative to time, place and circumstances—whether we deem it right or wrong—and it’s no different in Cuba.

  14. Follow up post #14 added on April 08, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    MiamiCuban (born in the US)... Do you work for the United States government?  If not, then any ‘workplace rules’ during the election are just that - Your employer can infringe on your freedom while you are at work, that is true.  You have the freedom to go look for another job where you can wear campaign buttons, or better yet, start your own business.  Try doing that in Cuba - you are an enemy of the state if you try.

    I am not sure why you think it’s OK for Cuba to mistreat it’s citizens but not OK for the USA to do the same.  Shades of gray, cultural differences, social climate?  What if Bush abolished the Democratic party and arrested journalists who reported the truth?  What if Obama did the same against Republicans? 

    Would it be OK for all the other nations to sit around and say, “I don’t know what the answers are for America”???  Or would you want them to condemn our president as a dictator who was infringing on the rights of our people?

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