Cuban police briefly arrested more than 100 dissidents over the weekend
One human rights activist described 'a state of paranoia' as at least
100 dissidents were arrested ahead of key anniversaries.
By Juan O. Tamayo
Police briefly arrested more than 100 Cuban dissidents over the weekend
in a multi-pronged campaign to prevent public demonstrations marking the
anniversaries of the deaths of five Castro opponents, activists reported
Former political prisoner Angel Moya and nine other government opponents
also were detained and there was no word on their whereabouts as of late
Monday, said his wife, Bertha Soler, leader of the dissident group
Ladies in White.
"There's a kind of state of paranoia" in which security agents are
sweeping up anyone they consider a threat, said Havana human rights
activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, who put the number of confirmed
weekend arrests at more than 100.
Most were freed hours or days later, not in time to join protests
marking the Feb. 23, 2010 death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata
Tamayo after a lengthy hunger strike, or the deaths of four South
Florida men whose Brothers to the Rescue airplanes were shot down by
Cuban fighter jets on Feb. 24, 1996.
One crackdown that elicited surprise was that against the group Ladies
in White in Havana, which has been largely left alone during the past
two years, when they attended Sunday mass at the Santa Rita church and
then marched around the neighborhood.
But police and pro-government mobs have not allowed the women to protest
any other way, and swiftly arrested 20 of them when they appeared to be
taking their march outside their usual boundaries, Soler told El Nuevo
"We walked to our usual bus stop and about 15 got on a bus that filled
up, so the rest of us started walking to another bus stop, and all of a
sudden we were surrounded by police cars, motorcycles, buses,
everything," she said.
She said that she and 19 other Ladies in White members then were shoved
into an empty bus and driven away. They were held on the bus for more
than four hours, Soler said.
Dissidents said that police in other parts of the island have tried to
avert protests by beating activists and surrounding their homes.
Police on Saturday detained three well known government critics —
musician Gorki Aguila, graffiti artist Danilo "El Sexto" Maldonado and
singer Ismael de Diego — before a planned concert at a park. They were