At least 40 women from the Damas de Blanco group and twelve opponents have been arrested this Sunday in Havana. The arrests, which have been going on for months, have come less than a week after Pope Francis visited the island.
The arrests took place this afternoon after the Ladies in White, led by Berta Soler, attended a mass in the parish «Santa Rita de Asís», and held a march in favor of human rights and political prisoners as is tradition of the group since its inception in 2003.
Among the detainees are the political expressives of the Group of 75, José Daniel Ferrer, who is the general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) and Ángel Moya, husband of Soler, as well as the director of the critical forum «State of SATS «, Antonio González Rodiles.
Dozens of government supporters and uniformed and plainclothes police officers began to shout revolutionary slogans when the group of dissidents arrived in a nearby street holding signs with the words «We all march for the freedom of Cuban political prisoners» and «All we march by a law of amnesty «, slogans of a campaign that began weeks ago, according to some media could contrast.
Shortly before, the leader of the women’s movement had denounced that seven of her companions and more than 20 opponents were arrested today to prevent them from participating in the acts of the group.
Soler said he has requested to meet with Pope Francisco during his stay on the island, which will be from September 19 to 22, but has received no response.
Soler told the foreign press that if he had the opportunity to meet with Francisco, he would ask for his mediation so that «police violence against people who want to participate or exercise their religious freedom and make public demonstrations will stop.»
He explained that he would inform the Argentine pontiff of the reasons for his disagreement with the current rapprochement between the governments of Cuba and the United States, as well as that «Cuba is in need of the moral and spiritual support of all those who are lovers of freedom.»
Soler said he would express to the highest authority of the Catholic Church his support for the general amnesty to more than a hundred prisoners for political reasons that is asking for the «Forum for Rights and Freedoms», in which the group participates that she head
He also announced that the «Ladies in White» will make the «attempt» to attend the Mass that Pope Francis will officiate on Sunday, September 20 in Havana, although he did not rule out the possibility of new arrests of activists from the next few days. human rights on the island.