EFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 27 August 2018 – The Cuban dissident movement Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) denounced on Monday the “harassment” by authorities and the temporary detention of 23 of its members in Havana and the western province of Matanzas, after attending Sunday Mass in different churches or upon leaving their homes.
In Matanzas 17 women were arrested as were six others in Havana, including the leader of the opposition group, Berta Soler.
Soler explained that for more than two years the authorities have not allowed the women to reach the Santa Rita Church in Havana, where the group attended mass weekly since its formation in 2003, and at the conclusion of services demonstrated for the release of political prisoners on the island.
Given these circumstances, she explained that they decided to attend different churches separately, but often cannot do so because they are unable to evade police operations such as the one routinely held Thursday through Sunday around the headquarters of the Ladies in White in the Lawton neighborhood, in the capital city.
Soler described as “terrible” the current situation of the Ladies in White because they are not allowed to exercise their “rights of expression” and said that the “harassment” against its members is on-going.
In addition, she denounced that four women from the group are imprisoned, among them Martha Sánchez, sentenced to five years in prison August 21 for “public disorder, resistance and attack” after having protested in front of a polling place in the general elections held in March.
She remarked that, in the cases of Nieves Matamoros and Yolanda Santana, they were sentenced to one year in prison for non-payment of fines and a fourth detainee is awaiting trial.
Berta Soler (b. 1963, Matanzas, Cuba) is one of the founders of the Ladies in White movement that emerged to advocate the release of the 75 dissidents imprisoned in the “Black Spring” of 2003, including her husband, Ángel Moya, all of whom were released and, as of today, remain out of prison.
After the death of Laura Pollán in 2011, Soler has headed the group, one of the most active of the internal dissidence of the island.
The Cuban government considers the dissidents “counterrevolutionaries” and “mercenaries.”
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
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