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  HOME | Cuba

Cuba Begins Releasing Dissidents Arrested after Ladies in White March

HAVANA – Several of the dozens of Cuban government opponents arrested in Havana after the Ladies in White dissident group’s traditional weekly march have begun to be released, leading opposition figures told EFE.

Among the dissidents freed Sunday night were Ladies in White leader Berta Soler; her husband, former political prisoner Angel Moya; political activist Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles; human rights activist and graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as El Sexto; and rock musician Gorki Aguila.

Soler told EFE she had not been able to determine how many of the roughly 60 dissidents arrested at midday Sunday have since been freed.

She added that she was not sure of the current situation of all members of the Ladies in White, noting that some had traveled to Havana from provinces such as Matanzas, Villa Clara, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba to attend the group’s traditional Sunday march and may have been forcibly returned to their places of origin.

Other members of the Ladies in White told her they had been released from custody but that security officials were set up near their homes to monitor them and prevent them from going outside, Soler said.

Other dissidents who returned to their homes late Sunday included Gonzalez Rodiles, who heads the State of SATS independent forum for debate; and his girlfriend, fellow activist Ayler Gonzalez.

Ayler Gonzalez said 46 members of the Ladies in White and 16 other dissidents were arrested around noon on Sunday.

All had tried to conduct a march in Havana sponsored by the opposition platform #TodosMarchamos, but after they were blocked by government supporters holding a counter-demonstration they were arrested and forcibly taken to police stations.

Sunday’s arrests took place just hours before the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to meet with dissidents and civil society leaders in Havana on Tuesday morning, the final day of his three-day visit.

It marked the 46th consecutive week that the Ladies in White’s Sunday march had ended with arrests, the group said.

The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the only source of information on detentions and other efforts to suppress dissidence on the Communist-ruled island, said in its latest report that at least 2,555 politically motivated arrests occurred in the first two months of 2016.

 

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