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Posted April 25, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By Marc Frank | Reuters

Cuba launched a blistering attack on the wives of imprisoned dissidents on Tuesday, accusing them of working with its arch-enemy, the United States, to subvert one-party socialist rule.

The women, known as the “Ladies in White”, have staged an unprecedented series of small demonstrations since their husbands were arrested in a political crackdown in 2003 that landed 75 dissidents in prison on charges of working for the U.S. government. Fifty-five remain behind bars.

On Monday, 10 of the women staged a sit-in next to Havana’s Revolution Square to demand that President Raul Castro’s government release their relatives. They were detained, put on a bus and driven home by police.

A government statement carried by Cuba’s official media attacked the women’s protest for being a “provocation ... ordered by their Yankee masters”.

State-run television showed photos of the women meeting with Michael Parmly, the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which a commentator called “the headquarters of the Cuban counterrevolution.”

Havana denies there are any political prisoners in Cuba and labels all opponents as “mercenaries” on the U.S. payroll.

The U.S. government deplored the police action that “forcefully removed” the women and denied their right to free assembly, a statement issued by the American diplomatic mission in Havana said. It urged Cuba to release all those jailed for peacefully exercising universally recognized rights.

The “Ladies in White,” who earned their name by marching silently every Sunday along a Havana boulevard dressed in white, were defiant in the face of the government attack.

“We were born out of government repression and we have no particular political agenda,” said one of their founders, Miriam Leiva. “Our objective is purely humanitarian, to free the prisoners of March 2003.”

REUTERS/Claudia Daut


Around 100 government supporters arrived at Monday’s sit-in shouting slogans and insults at the women and later helped police remove them, in some cases by dragging them to the bus.

The government said it intervened to save the women from a spontaneous outburst by angry patriots.

The television newscast did not show images of the rough treatment. Instead, it played excerpts of a telephone conference call the women held on Friday with U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is a staunch anti-Castro voice in Congress.

Cuba accused the Cuban-born legislator of encouraging the women to destabilize the country.

“It is all a big farce and the government is manipulating the information,” said Berta Soler, one of Monday’s protesters whose husband Angel Moya is serving a 20-year prison term.

“The government did not show the images of us being yanked around, dragged and kicked,” she said.

The illegal but tolerated Cuban Commission for Human Rights estimates there are more than 200 people in prison in Cuba for political reasons serving sentences of up to 28 years.

Amnesty International recognizes 58 as prisoners of conscience who are jailed solely for peacefully expressing their beliefs.

(Additional reporting by Esteban Israel and Nelson Acosta; Editing by Alan Elsner)

  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 25, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    First, sorry it took me so long to post this. I was away for several days.

    Second, let me sum this up in one word… SHAMEFUL!

    Raul Castro, shame on you. What, you don’t have enough police to arrest these women you have to get “ordinary” citizens to arrest these Ladies In White? SHAME!

    This says it all…

    “We were born out of government repression and we have no particular political agenda,” said one of their founders, Miriam Leiva. “Our objective is purely humanitarian, to free the prisoners of March 2003.”

    As regular Havana Journal readers know, I do not support Ileana Ros Lehtinen or Michael Parmly and I am not sure to what extent these Ladies are involved with them but I would hope that they keep their involvement with those two people very limited. They can only hurt the Ladies’ movement.

    Good luck to the Ladies In White. I support you and once again… SHAME ON YOU RAUL. Do you want this to happen on your watch? How are they bad for Cuba? Please tell me.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 25, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    am hoping that the reforms Raol is promising are just slow in coming…  More examples of this and we’ll know it was just talk, which would be sad.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 28, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    I don’t know the particulars about this case, especially since I wasn’t present to witness what went on.  But I do know this, if in the U.S. you want to do a “protest”—-you need to file with the authorities and get permission to do so, in which case you’re assigned a particular locale and if you stray from there, you will be forced to leave.  At means they bring in the police, etc…..And it can get ugly if the protestors decide to go past the allotted boundary.  These are just facts, and I’m sure that Cuba probably has its own rules with respect to demonstrating as well.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 28, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    You are funny. You are comparing apples and oranges. If you think there is even an application process in Cuba for a protest, you are sadly mistaken.

    You would probably be taken to an insane asylum or prison just for asking because if you are asking to protest then you are not a good revolutionary and must be mentally insane or an enemy funded by the evil empire.

    You really should know more about Cuba before you compare the US to Cuba.

    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on April 29, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    Publisher, are you forgetting that the Ladies in White have been demonstrating for months now and they’ve pretty much been left alone by the government?  If the government is so repressive, why didn’t they do something then?  It was when the Ladies decided to to go into a different zone that the problems started.  I’m not opining here…..these are just the facts.  You can draw your own conclusions.

    The sad truth is that with respect to Cuba, in the eyes of conservatives like yourself as well as the Miami right wingers, EVERYTHING Cuba does is seen in a bad light.  If Raul had sent in the police, it would have been considered repressive.  So he takes the most benign route possible and sends in women—unarmed Cuban citizens—to handle the situation, and you say it’s shameful.  I think Raul should just ship these women to Miami and be rid of them.  Of course—-that’s not what Miami exiles would want because what they want to see is the situation escalate into a riot and more bad press for Cuba.  Regardless of political affiliation, it seems to me that in situations like these it’s best to use whatever peaceful solution is possible—-without armed guards and without anyone getting hurt.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on April 29, 2008 by MiamiCuban


    Also….I didn’t say that demonstrators in Cuba had to apply for a permit to demonstrate as is required by law in the U.S.  The Ladies in White just took it upon themselves to do their daily marches.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on August 29, 2011 by Liberalfem

    Here in my city people can walk down the street carrying a flower dressed in white. It’s called freedom. Cuba’s thugocracy is afraid of free speech. Talk to people who lived there or were imprisoned by leaders there. Naïveté is not a virtue when it comes to human rights in Cuba.

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