Act of Repudiation
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    Cuban dissidents blocked from leaving home

    Posted on Saturday, 09.24.11

    Cuban dissidents blocked from leaving home
    Associated Press

    HAVANA — A raucous pro-government crowd shouting insults and slogans
    blocked a group of Cuban dissidents from launching a protest march in
    Havana on Saturday.

    Carrying placards and waving tiny Cuban flags, hundreds of people massed
    outside the home of Laura Pollan, one of the leaders of the dissident
    group Ladies in White, more than an hour before the group had planned to
    march three miles (five kilometers) from her working-class Havana
    neighborhood to a church.

    "Down with the worms!" and "Get out!" they shouted at the 34 white-clad
    dissidents gathered inside. Many in the pro-government crowd were women
    and university students, and they strung huge Cuban and revolutionary
    flags from the roof of Pollan's home, staking their claim to the street
    and also sheltering themselves from the sun.

    When some of the Ladies tried to push their way outside to start the
    march, they were blocked from leaving the doorway when a scrum broke
    out, with government security agents standing between the two groups.
    Authorities pulled a bus up to the door of the residence, but it soon
    left without any of the Ladies on board. It was unclear why the bus was
    brought to the scene.

    Beyond the pushing and yelling, no violence broke out. Crowds often
    gather to shout at Cuban dissidents in so-called acts of repudiation.
    The government claims the acts are spontaneous rejections of
    anti-revolutionary sentiment, although little effort is made to conceal
    coordination with state security agents on the scene.

    In recent days, pro-government blogs have called for Cuban youth to turn
    out in counterprotest.

    The Ladies in White, who formed to press for the release of their
    husbands, intellectuals and social commentators jailed in a 2003
    crackdown, have historically marched to commemorate the day of the
    Virgin of Mercedes, the patron saint of prisoners.

    Their loved ones were freed over the past year under a deal brokered by
    the Roman Catholic Church, but the Ladies say they intend to keep
    protesting for greater freedom. They have refocused their agenda by
    demanding freedom for some 50 prisoners convicted of politically
    motivated but violent crimes like sabotage and hijacking.

    Pollan said her home had been monitored since the previous day and she
    didn't know why her group was not allowed to march Saturday as they have
    on Sept. 24 in past years. She accused the state of coordinating the act
    of repudiation.

    "These are people who are brought in because they're always the same
    ones," Pollan said.

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