Cuban police grabbed members of the
opposition group “Ladies in White” by their hair, dragged them into a
bus and drove them away to break up a protest march on Wednesday.
The white clothes the women
traditionally wear were smeared with mud as they resisted policewomen forcing
them into a bus. Government protesters shouted insults at them for the second
day in a row.
The march was the third this week
by the Ladies in White who are protesting the 2003 imprisonment of their
husbands and sons, most of whom are still in jail.
As the 30 or so women walked along
carrying flowers, about 200 government supporters marched alongside, separated
by security agents.
“Worms get out of here. Viva
Fidel! Viva Raul!” the government supporters shouted, referring to former
president Fidel Castro and his brother, current President Raul Castro, the only
leaders Cuba has since the 1959 communist revolution.
For their part, the women shouted
“Freedom” and “Zapata lives.” Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an
imprisoned dissident died from an 85-day hunger strike on 23 February and has
become a rallying point for Cuba’s opposition. His mother, Reyna Tamayo, took
part in the march.
As the pro-government crowd
swelled, state security agents repeatedly offered to take the Ladies in White
away in a bus, but leader Laura Pollan refused.
Finally, they pulled a bus up and
began hauling the women into it, grabbing some by the hair and others by the
arms and legs as they screamed in protest. They were driven to Pollan’s house
in Central Havana.
The seventh anniversary of the
crackdown, known as the “Black Spring,” is today and the women say
they will march again.