Cuba: Another Round of Nearly 100 Dissidents Arrested, Beaten After Sunday Mass


Cuba’s Catholic churches have become battlegrounds against pro-democratic movements, as the Ladies in White, a dissident group composed of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters of political prisoners, insist on practicing their religion publicly. This has resulted in a larger number of arrests every week for the transgression.

This past Sunday, at least 98 people–a combination of Ladies in White and their supporters, according to pro-democracy leader Martha Beatriz Roque–were arrested after walking in line holding the photos of their imprisoned loved ones, which the Cuban government attacked as an illegal protest. Images surfacing from the incident, thanks to journalists who were also beaten and arrested, show members of the Ladies in White group being hauled away from the scene in two large buses.

Martí Noticias, a U.S.-funded pro-democracy outlet based in Miami, reports that at least one journalist can be seen in the footage above being thrown on the ground and kicked for having recorded the Ladies in White protest, which consisted of walking from their Havana church to a nearby park in silence, while holding the photos of political prisoners and a gladiola, a symbol of peace.

Many of those arrested were released later that afternoon, but not before suffering physical abuse at the hands of Cuban state police. Some Cuban dissidents with access to Twitter have reported that state police tighten handcuffs on the ladies so strongly that they lose blood circulation in their hands:

Babalú Blog, based in Miami, published photos from the Twitter account of Lady in White Yusmila Reyna Ferrer, clearly sporting what appear to be wounds suffered through whipping:

Cubanet, a dissident outlet, notes this was the third consecutive Sunday in which mass arrests of dissidents occurred following Sunday Mass. They note also that sources claim a CNN reporter was also injured in the attack, though CNN has not confirmed this. Cuba has increased the number of politically motivated arrests by 70% between February and March 2015, as well as the number and strangeness of their attacks. In February, a Lady in White involved in a Sunday Mass where 200 were arrested was tarred by a communist mob.

In 2014, the summer months became prime for crackdowns on pro-democracy activists. This year, dissidents fear that President Obama’s vast concessions package to the Castro regime announced in December, which culminated with the removal of Cuba from the State Department’s lists of sponsors of terrorism, despite Castro’s ties to Marxist and radical Islamist groups, will embolden the regime.

Cuban dissidents have begun sharing macros on social media accusing President Obama of being an active accomplice to the violence of the Castro regime:

“They have removed Cuba from the list of international terrorism, but, in domestic terror, the Cuban regime continues being number one,” Martha Beatriz Roque told Diario de Cuba.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Cuba in September. It is not known whether he will discuss the Ladies in White movement or condemn the Cuban regime’s weekly arrests of Catholics for practicing their religion in a Marxist country. The Pope has not made any public statements regarding Catholics repressed in Cuba since President Obama’s cooperation with Castro, which he praised.


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