30 Ladies in White Arrested / 14ymedio

Police Mount an Operation to Prevent a Meeting in Havana

14ymedio, Havana | May 23, 2014

As of midnight Thursday, the police deployed a strong operation around the headquarters of the Ladies in White in Havana. Once a month these women gather in a house on Neptune Street, for what they call a “literary tea.” This activity is frequently under pressure from State Security and groups organized by the government, who shout slogans and place loudspeakers facing the house.

In conversation with 14ymedio Berta Soler, leaders of the Ladies in White, described the situation they are facing at this time. “This is the 129th Literary Tea and we planned to have a reading of poems and letters, but the street was already closed off from the night before,” said Soler. According to her, “They had already detained some thirty women and others were blocked from getting here.”

This newspaper’s reporters confirmed the closing of Neptune Street and the diversion of traffic to surrounding roads. At least two buses with uniformed as well as plain clothes personnel had been  brought to the surrounding area. Groups usually used in the so-called acts of repudiation were stationed in the capital’s Trillo Park.

Several neighbors consulted confirmed that the police forces began arriving in the early hours of the morning. “We can’t live in this neighborhood any more,” said an elderly woman who lives in Hospital Street. According to her, “When there are so many police there are a ton of things you can no longer do. Not even the pushcart vendors want to sell here.” She was referring to the roaming sellers of fruits and vegetables who pass through the city’s neighborhood’s with their merchandise.

The Ladies in White are a peaceful women’s movement created after the 2003 Black Spring, a time when Fidel Castro’s government condemned 75 dissidents and independent journalists were condemned to long prison terms.