Church Protects Protestors in Cuba

Wives of Political Prisoners Continue Marching

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HAVANA, Cuba, MAY 3, 2010 ( A group of wives and mothers protesting the imprisonment of their loved ones in Cuba have been given permission to continue their marches.

The group, known as the «Ladies in White,» carried out their weekly protest last Sunday, as they have for seven years. They have been marching since the government’s wave of repression in 2003 during which 75 dissidents were jailed. The majority are still in prison. The marches have been the only known public protest allowed by the authorities since the beginning of the 60s.

For the previous two weeks, the women had been harassed to stop their marches, with the threat of a harsh suppression if they did not choose to cease.

The «leniency» now being shown to the Ladies in White is due at least in part to intervention from Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana.

He reported to the press that he asked the government not to repeat the «painful events» of the previous two Sundays.

The cardinal said he would not call the response a «new flexibility,» but affirmed that «it is very good that such a gesture is made.»
Cardinal Ortega y Alamino described the Ladies in White as «persons who deserve respect, a special consideration.»
He told the press that after a week as «intermediary» between the Ladies in White and the Cuban government, «I find myself here somewhat as the guarantor that they are going to do this as they usually» have for seven years.
Laura Pollan, the leader of the Ladies in White, said that the government’s decision to allow them to march was a «small victory» that she attributed to «tenacity, perseverance, reason and above all love.»

«Here, love has triumphed, love for our relatives and love for God,» said Pollan.
Meanwhile Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, on hunger strike for the past 68 days, spoke of the decision as an «encouraging sign.»
«I believe this is an encouraging sign that the real conflict that exists between various political tendencies in Cuba does not have to end precisely in acts of bashing and killings,» he said on the telephone from the hospital where he is interned in Santa Clara.

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