Cuban government supporters attacked more than 40 members and supporters of Ladies in White in what a spokeswoman called the worst violence against the Havana group since the Catholic Church interceded in their behalf last spring.

Spokeswoman Berta Soler said the mob punched, slapped and kicked the women, spit on them, pulled their hair and ripped some of their clothes to break up the women’s attempt to stage a street protest Thursday.

Several of the 42 women who were attacked reported bruises on their arms and legs but none required medical treatment, Soler and Ladies in White leader Laura Pollán reported Friday by phone from their homes in Havana.

Pollán said the women left her home after their monthly gathering for a “literary tea” for a march to protest violent attacks on the Ladies in White branch in the eastern city of Santiago over the past four weeks.

Forty-seven women had gathered at the house but five did not go out because of age and health issues, she said. Another eight women were detained and taken away by police near her house Thursday morning to keep them from joining the gathering. They were freed later.

Soler said Thursday’s attack was the harshest in Havana since March of last year, when the Catholic Church urged the government to halt an increasingly violent string of aggressions against the women during their regular Sunday protests

“This was a very violent act by the government,” she said, adding that the harassments against the Ladies in White, who demand the release of all political prisoners, have been growing more violent since December.

Cuban dissidents are reporting increased government repression across the island this year, amid speculation that the government is applying a tough hand as it tries to enact ambitious and risky reforms to overhaul the island’s economy.

“I think the government feels that it is lost and has no options, and is using these terrorist actions against a defenseless population” to keep Cubans in check, said Soler.

Soler said the men in plainclothes who directed Thursday’s mob were known to the women as officers of the so-called Confrontation Department, the branch of the Interior Ministry in charge of tracking dissidents and averting their activities.

The Ladies in White, who won the prestigious Sakharov human rights prize in 2005, want to urge Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega to intercede as he did last year, Soler said. But he’s out of the country and not expected back until after Aug. 23.

Ortega’s intercession meant the Havana women are the only dissidents allowed to stage regular street protests — every Sunday after mass at the Santa Rita church — by a government that has long claimed “the streets belong to Fidel” Castro.

Government-organized mobs have used violence to keep the women’s branch in Santiago, Cuba’s second-largest city, from marching after mass there in what members acknowledge is a campaign to win their own right to take to the streets.

An editorial Friday in the Boston Globe newspaper, meanwhile, noted that Syria is not the only place where “dictatorial rulers have been bloodying their critics” and criticized the attacks by “pro government goons” against the Ladies in White.

Castro “has nothing to fear from them but their integrity and moral authority. That, however, they have in abundance, while the ruthless regime over which Castro and his brother Fidel have presided for more than half a century has long since lost any claim to the respect or admiration of the free world,” it added.

A Cuban website, meanwhile, published a column saying that a machete attack on a dissident in Guantánamo last month was the “spontaneous” work of a government supporter and was not ordered by the government.

Ernesto Carrera Moreno was hospitalized with a cracked skull after he was attacked by a man identified as an official in the municipal directorate of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.

The column said Cuban security forces do intervene to protect dissidents “from the people’s anger” but added: “Nevertheless, there is a reality: Our people will always respond to any provocation that offends their principles and damages the peace of citizens.”

The column was signed by Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy, a Guatemalan living in Havana who has acknowledged working for Cuban intelligence. It was published on the web site of the government-run Radio Habana.



Recent Articles

Date Title
8/31/11 Cuba Dissidents Ask Church to Stop Harassment by State
Reuters
8/31/11 Grammy-winning Cuban singer Pablo Milanes, in letter, blasts attacks on dissidents in Cuba
Associated Press
8/31/11 Web rumor on Fidel Castro’s death catches on
By Alfonso Chardy, The Miami Herald
8/30/11 Dissidents say police used tear gas in a raid, beat women
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/30/11 Cuban civil society fights to be heard
By Paolo Paranagua, The Guardian
8/30/11 A&K scraps Cuba tours after reviewing new U.S. regulations
By Gay Myers, Travel Weekly
8/29/11 Cuban singer Milanes’ first Miami concert marked with emotion
By Jordan Levin, The Miami Herald
8/29/11 From Dictactorship to Democracy: The Transition in Cuba Has Already Started
Yoani Sanchez, Huffington Post
8/29/11 Cubans may finally get to buy new cars
By Chris Woodyard, USA Today
8/29/11 Puerto Rico-Cuba Flights Resume After Decades
Associated Press
8/29/11 Updating Cuba's Economic Model
Omar Everleny Perez Villanueva, From the Island
8/26/11 NY Bank to pay $88 million for Cuba transfers
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/26/11 The secret life of Cuba's creative class: photographer Michael Dweck's allegorical narrative of seduction
The Art Daily
8/26/11 Cuba condemns U.S. court ruling on exile's compensation claim
Xinhua English
8/26/11 Cuba's Dual Currency System Provides a Way to Cheat Shoppers
Yoani Sanchez, Huffington Post
8/25/11 Get Cuba off the List of State Sponsors of Terror
Sarah Stephens, Huffington Post
8/25/11 Venezuela’s Chavez says he may undergo more chemotherapy, calls treatment ‘preventive’
Associated Press
8/24/11 Florida Court Awards $2.8 Bln to Anti-Castro Agent
Reuters
8/24/11 Post-Gaddafi, is Cuba next?
By David Roberts, Business News America
8/24/11 Raul Castro Showing Impatience at Slow Reform Pace
Reuters
8/24/11 We Now Know: The Real Enemies of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act.
Arturo Lopez-Levy, The Havana Note
8/24/11 Cuba Takes Over as Head of Disarmament Body
Associated Press
8/24/11 Blogger sends uncensored news to Cuban cell phones
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/23/11 Cuba Still On U.S. Terrorism List, but Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Wonders Where the Evidence Went
By Anya Landau French, The Havana Note
8/23/11 Controversy over Milanés concert is déjà vu with a few fresh twists
By Jordan Levin, The Miami Herald
8/22/11 Venezuela debuta esta noche en el Super 4 de Montevideo
8/22/11 Defections prompt calls for change in Cuban sports
By Anne-Marie Garcia, Associated Press
8/22/11 Cuba rejects continued inclusion on US terror list
Associated Press
8/22/11 Current Record
8/22/11 The Stomachs of Strongmen
Ann Louise Bardach, The New York Times
8/19/11 Capturing Cuba's TV Culture
By Claire O'Neill, NPR
8/19/11 Debate in Cuba, Skeptics & Content
By Harolodo Alfonso, Havana Times
8/18/11 Pablo Milanes' Miami Concert Plan Drums Up Discord
Reuters
8/17/11 Rivera seeks to restrict some Cubans from returning to Cuba
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/17/11 First Americans in Cuba under easier travel rules
By Jeff Franks, Reuters
8/16/11 Hemingway Bar: Cuba's Clever Daiquiri Diplomacy
By Steve Clemons, The Atlantic
8/16/11 Post-Castro Cuba needs a democracy, not a theocracy
By Carlos Eire, The Sun Sentinel
8/16/11 Cuban dissidents say cops again beat women
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/15/11 Is Cuba Going Capitalist?
By Mary O'Grady, Wall Street Journal
8/15/11 Many Cubans living abroad can’t return to Cuba
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/15/11 Singer Pablo Milanes Urges More Freedom in Cuba
Reuters
8/12/11 Cuba's Fading Fidel Castro Turns 85 on Saturday
Reuters
8/12/11 Cuba entrepreneurs grapple with taxes, an alien concept after decades of paternalism
AP, The Washington Post
8/11/11 Cuba’s Self-Employed & the Survival Struggle
Havana Times
8/10/11 Exile groups oppose Cuban musician Pablo Milanés’ Aug. 27 concert in Miami
Juan Carlos Chavez, El Nuevo Herald
8/9/11 Corruption again alleged in Cuba
Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald
8/8/11 Cuba travel suspended by U.S. tour company
Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald
8/8/11 Where Cubans Can Meet the Beatles at Last
Damien Cave, The New York Times
8/8/11 Engagement With Cuba Is Way to Undermine Communist Rule
Editorial Opinion, Bloomberg
8/7/11 WikiLeaks: Coast Guard officer is key U.S. man in Havana
Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald
8/7/11 In Cuba, free market proves easier said than done
Paul Haven, AP
8/6/11 Cuba opening to private enterprise spurs service sector start-ups
Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
8/5/11 Cuba's famed cigar industry is heating up again
Marc Frank, Reuters
8/5/11 Cuba chops prices of agricultural equipment for newly authorized private farmers
Associated Press
8/5/11 Cuban Court Upholds Sentence for Jailed American
Reuters
8/4/11 US Releases More Classified Bay of Pigs Documents
Associated Press
8/3/11 Leahy lifts hold on democracy funds for Cuba
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/3/11 Cubans Set for Big Change: Right to Buy Homes
Damien Cave, The New York Times
8/3/11 In Cuba, capitalism thrives on Craigslist-like sites
By Ron Buchanon, beyondbrics Financial Times
8/3/11 Dissident economist says Raul Castro not serious about taking on bureaucracy
By Juan Tamayo, The Boston Herald
8/2/11 Cuba viaja con equipos completos al Mundial de Judo en Par's
8/2/11 Study shows best places to protect marine mammals
8/2/11 Russians look to Cuban offshore reserves
UPI
8/2/11 Drill, Bebé, Drill
By Coral Davenport, National Journal
8/2/11 Castro says he will ease travel restrictions on Cubans
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
8/1/11 The awakening of Cuba’s resistance movement
By Otto Reich, The Miami Herald
8/1/11 United DC-Cancun flight diverted to Cuba by odor
By Peter Orsi, Associated Press
8/1/11 Newly authorized Cuba trips sell out fast, run into controversy
By Kitty Yancey, USA Today
8/1/11 Home sales would be a sea change for Cuba
By Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald