Laura Pollan Toledo
Closed streets, diverted traffic, countless police vehicles, agents dressed in civilian clothing, and a wave of arrests. That was how the operation of the Cuban regime against the Ladies in White looked like this Wednesday, February 13th, when women from throughout all the provinces of the country set out towards their national headquarters in Havana to pay tribute to Laura Pollan- deceased leader of the group-who would have turned 65.
Despite the repressive measures, the Ladies continued onward with their plans to celebrate the date.
Since the morning hours, former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta published a series of Twitter messages detailing what was happening with these women.
“Repressive forces are stationed on the streets leading to the headquarters of the Ladies in White on Neptune Street”, read Moya’s first tweet. The activist continued to describe the presence of numerous “police and private vehicles” ready to arrest any of the women who would try to arrive to the encounter.
At around 9 AM, there had already been 5 confirmed arrests of Ladies in White. Just minutes later, the number rose to 27. Throughout the day, many more arrests were confirmed.
Two of the detained women were Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and Yanelys Cabrera who set out from Boyeros (Havana) towards Neptune Street. The arrests were violent.
“I received physical blows on my head, back and arms. I am dizzy”, tweeted Fonseca Quevedo upon being released minutes later. “Police vehicle # 570 left me in a desolate area in the municipality of Lisa”, added another message, but Sara Marta assured that she would head out again towards the meeting to “carry out her her right to freedom of peaceful association and assembly”.
In that second attempt, Sara Marta and Yanelys were once again detained.
Read the rest of the report, including photos and video from Cuba, here.
And for more about the arrest this week of 63 Damas De Blanco, visit Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.