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Cuban dissidents say cops again beat women

Posted on Tuesday, 08.16.11

Cuban dissidents say cops again beat women

For the fourth week, security forces in Santiago halt Ladies in White
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuban dissidents complained that security forces blocked about 20
supporters of the Ladies in White from reaching a church service Sunday
in the eastern city of Santiago, including nine women who were beaten
and humiliated.

The incidents marked the fourth weekend in a row that authorities have
used physical force and even violence to break up the women's attempt to
establish their right to protest in eastern Cuba, just as the Women in
White do after Sunday mass in Havana to demand the release of all
political prisoners on the island.

"Let's see who tires first. Those who fight for democracy or those who
receive a salary," José Daniel Ferrer García, a recently freed political
prisoner, said by phone from his home in Palmarito del Cauto, about 15
miles from Santiago.

Ferrer said his wife, Belkis Cantillo, was in the group of nine women
most seriously pummeled when the truck that was carrying them to mass at
the Santiago cathedral was stopped by a large group of police and women
prison guards at El Cristo, a traffic checkpoint seven miles from the city.

"I was grabbed by six very large women who threw me off the truck. Two
others were waiting for me below. They put me on the patrol car, and
inside two male officers started to hit me and pull my hair," Cantillo
told Radio Martí.

When the patrol car carrying Cantillo broke down on the way to
Palmarito, she refused to transfer to another car and was again hit by a
policeman who also flashed his penis as a way to humiliate the women,
Ferrer and Cantillo added.

Police also detained another seven Ladies in White supporters before
they could get to the cathedral, including three who tried to sneak out
of their homes around 2 a.m. in hopes of evading the security forces,
Ferrer reported. One of the women fainted when confronted with a police
guard dog.

Only three women managed to attend the 9 a.m. mass, officiated by
Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia. They told him that the archbishop
had condemned the violence against the women in his homily, Ferrer noted.

The women intercepted at El Cristo were driven back to their hometowns
in Palmarito, Palma Soriano, Guantanamo and Holguin, Ferrer told El
Nuevo Herald, although some were dropped off at local police stations
and only then sent home.

Afterwards, eight government opponents were slightly injured as police
and crowds of government supporters harassed three homes of dissidents
near Santiago, where the women and others had gathered, to prevent them
from staging protests on their streets.

Ten had gathered in a home in the fruit-growing town of El Caney, 41 in
Palma Soriano and 18 in Palmarito, Ferrer added.

After several hours, police officials offered to allow the dissidents to
leave the homes if they would promise to return to their own homes. The
dissidents refused, and the security forces eventually tired and left,
Ferrer reported.

Police violence against the dissidents appears to have increased since
April, when Cuban ruler Raúl Castro declared at a Communist Party
congress that Cubans "will never deny the peoples' right to defend the
revolution."

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/15/2360783/cuban-dissidents-say-cops-again.html

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