14ymedio, Havana, 20 September 2015 — Opposition groups have reported dozens of arrests during the late night and morning hours of Sunday, to prevent many activists from attending Pope Francis’s Mass at the Plaza of the Revolution. The number of people arrested could exceed thirty, according to Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Among those arrested are four activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Zacchaeo Baez, Mary J. Sardinas, Boris I. Reñe and Aymara Nieto, who managed to reach the square and at least two of them approached Pope Francis and managed to talk to him about the violation of human rights in Cuba and political prisoners, a UNPACU source told this newspaper.
In images that have already begun to circulate on the Internet, we sees security services detain opponents who could have been taken to the fourth police station, located in the Cerro municipality, where they are also holding the blogger Agustin Lopez and his sister Ada Lopez.
Just outside the Ladies in White’s new headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood, in the very early hours of today, twenty Ladies in White were arrested when they left to go to the Plaza of the Revolution, including their leader Berta Soler. Also detained with there were the dissidents Angel Moya, Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles and Jose Daniel Ferrer. The latter reported via Twitter that “They took me handcuffed behind my back to the police station at Regla.”
The UNPACU leader, said, “Later, again handcuffed behind my back they released me again in front of the Bus and Truck Terminal that transports passengers to Oriente and other provinces east of the capital.” Ferrer added that in Santiago de Cuba “political police deployed special forces to suppress any solidarity action.”
At the center of the country, in the province of Villa Clara, at least 25 activisits belonging to various organizations attempted to board a vehicle to travel to Havana. The police stopped them and hours later they were taken to their homes where they remain under heavy surveillance.
For her part, the regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque was again invited this Sunday to meet with Pope Francis, this time at the Havana Cathedral. The invitation was communicated to her personally by the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature who seemed stunned by the arrest that she had suffered yesterday when trying to comply with a similar invitation. Also invited to this afternoon’s meeting is the independent journalist Miriam Leiva.