Ladies in White opposition leader arrested in Cuba

Berta Soler, who leads the Ladies in White protest movement, was held ahead of a regular demonstration in support of political prisoners, former dissident Angel Moya confirmed to AFP.

Long considered the only opposition group the Cuban government allows to march regularly, the Ladies in White movement is made up of the relatives of jailed dissidents, campaigning for their release.

They march almost every Sunday, dressed in white.

“They were arrested at approximately 11 in the morning, when they were preparing to go to Santa Rita,” Moya said, referring to the church where the women usually attend mass on Sunday before marching.

Along with Soler, Ladies in White members Lourdes Esquivel and Gladys Capote, as well as Barbara Ferrat, were arrested by plainclothes police, he said.

He indicated that, “prevented from going to Santa Rita,” the women began a protest outside the Ladies in White headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana.

Ferrat’s son, 17-year-old Jonathan Torres, was earlier arrested for participating in historic July 11 protests that flared up in about 50 Cuban cities over the summer.


A government crackdown against the unprecedented anti-government revolt left one dead, dozens injured and more than 1,000 people detained, several hundred of whom remain behind bars.

Political opposition is illegal in Cuba and dissidents, often detained for short periods of time, are considered “mercenaries” in the service of the United States.

Moya, one of 75 political prisoners of the so-called Black Spring of 2003, said that “as usual” the police did not say where the detainees were, and he did not know his wife’s whereabouts.

The US embassy in Cuba condemned the arrests.

“The regime should stop harassing activists and concerned mothers. We call for their immediate release and support them and all political prisoners in #Cuba,” the diplomatic mission said on its Twitter account.

© Agence France-Presse

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