14ymedio, Havana, 21 February 2016 — The events organized on Sunday to remember the late activist Orlando Zapata Tamayo resulted in dozens of opposition members arrested throughout the country. Several civil society organizations had also called for a tribute to honor the four Brothers to the Rescue pilots on the twentieth anniversary of their death at the hands of the Cuban Air Force.
Zapata Tamayo died on 23 February 2010 after a prolonged hunger strike to protest his prison conditions. The death of the dissident led to a wave of indignation in Cuban civil society and strong pronouncements from international bodies devoted to respect for human rights.
The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) confirmed to this newspaper the arrests of 134 of its members. The arrests occurred when opponents tried to “reach Catholic Churches to attend mass, from Guantanamo to Camaguey, as part of the actions within the We All March Campaign,” according to a statement from UNPACU.
In Havana about 37 Ladies in White managed to walk down 5th Avenue, supported by 34 activists. At least seven women were prevented from reaching the place, in the west of Havana.
“Fifty members of the Interior Ministry, some dressed in olive green uniforms and others in police uniforms, overpowered the protesters at the scene,” the blogger Agustín López Canino told 14ymedio at the scene. In his report, the activist added that those arrested were being put into “paddy wagons and taken to detention centers.”
Also present were “civilians” of the rapid response brigades who shouted pro-government slogans against the dissidents.