Unlike a week earlier, pro-Castro demonstrators did not show up Sunday to challenge a protest by women seeking the release of their dissident husbands from prison.
BY ANITA SNOW
HAVANA - One week after being confronted by a group of pro-government counterprotesters, the wives of jailed dissidents marched peacefully Sunday after Easter services to demand the release of their husbands.
The counterprotesters from the Federation of Cuban Women had indicated last week they would return again on Sunday, but they did not.
‘‘I think that this time they didn’t want to make the same big error, especially with the vote in Geneva coming,’’ said marcher Gisela Delgado, referring to the expected vote on Cuba’s human rights record in mid-April by the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Delgado is the wife of prisoner Hector Palacios, one of 75 dissidents rounded up two years ago in a crackdown on independent writers and journalists.
Although 14 of the original 75 have been freed on medical parole, the other 61 remain behind bars serving sentences ranging from six to 28 years on charges of working with U.S. officials to undermine Fidel Castro’s government—something the dissidents and Washington deny.
Delgado said her husband has been in the prison hospital for several months with arterial problems.
She is calling on the government to release him and other political prisoners.
Sunday’s peaceful half-hour march by about 30 women dressed in white, each carrying a single orange gladiolus after services at Santa Rita Catholic Church contrasted with that of the previous week, when more than 100 women government supporters held a noisy counterprotest with shouts of “Viva Fidel!’‘
While the wives demanded the release of their husbands, the protesters from the Federation of Cuban Woman called for the release of the ‘‘Five Heroes’’—five Cuban intelligence agents serving long terms in U.S. federal prisons.