Cuba’s Ladies in White protest without incident

Mar 25, 2012, 9:59 PM | Updated: 9:59 pm

Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) – A Cuban dissident group known as the Ladies in White held its customary weekly protest without incident Sunday on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island.

The lack of any arrests at the march outside a Havana church and the absence of the pro-government crowds that sometimes curse the women and yell revolutionary chants indicated an apparent unspoken temporary truce, after dozens of dissidents were briefly detained last weekend.

The Ladies in White also appeared to be in a compromising mood, saying they would try to attend Benedict’s Mass on Wednesday in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution but would not use it to advance their cause.

The group’s leader, Bertha Soler, said they will not shout slogans or wear T-shirts bearing the image of the group’s late co-founder, Laura Pollan.

“It is a sacred Mass,” Soler said.

“You have to be respectful. One goes to temples to pray … there will be no politics,” she added.

Dozens of government opponents, including Soler and her husband, were rounded up last weekend and held briefly. At the time, Soler said authorities warned her the main thoroughfare in western Havana where the Ladies march each week would be off-limits.

But there were no detentions at the march Sunday after the group went to Mass. Nor were they harassed by pro-government crowds. Cuba say the Ladies and other dissidents are mercenaries bent on undermining the government’s authority, and accuses them of taking U.S. money to engage in subversive acts.

The 30 or so protesters were outnumbered at least two-to-one by foreign journalists in town to cover Benedict’s visit as they walked along the median of Quinta Avenida.

Soler said they are still hoping to meet with Benedict even for a minute to deliver a list of 46 people they consider political prisoners in Cuba and ask him to intercede on their behalf.

Vatican officials have said the pope does not plan to meet dissidents.

Cuba last year released the last of 75 government opponents from a 2003 crackdown on dissent and says it does not hold any political prisoners.

Last week Amnesty International designated four Cuban inmates as “prisoners of conscience,” the only ones it recognizes on the island.

Soler also addressed the pontiff’s comment on Friday that Marxist ideology is increasingly irrelevant today.

“Really, he’s not wrong. … Communism does not work here in Cuba,” she said.

Elizardo Sanchez, head of a group that monitors detentions on the island, said 70 government opponents have been detained in the last four days, and at least 100 beggars were removed from the streets to keep them from being seen by foreign journalists and pilgrims coming for the pope.

The report could not be independently verified. The Cuban government declined to comment.

(This version CORRECTS attribution of government’s no-comment, deleting reference to press center.)

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

People search a collapsed building following an earthquake in Azmarin town, Idlib province, norther...
Associated Press

Death toll soars after powerful earthquake rocks Turkey and Syria

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people.
1 day ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the 27-nation European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India.
2 days ago
(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
4 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Cuba’s Ladies in White protest without incident