Act of Repudiation
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    Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again Trying to Attend Mass

    Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again Trying to
    Attend Mass
    by FRANCES MARTEL26 Jun 2017

    Over thirty members of the Ladies in White, a peaceful Catholic
    dissident group in Cuba, were violently arrested over the weekend for
    attempting to attend Sunday Mass, including leader Berta Soler.
    The Cuban government recently banned Soler from leaving the country
    after the White House invited her to attend President Donald Trump’s
    speech announcing the repeal of Obama-era concessions to the communist
    Castro regime. She was arrested eight times during President Obama’s
    short visit to the island in March 2016.

    This weekend, the group had planned to attend the weekly Mass at their
    local Havana church but, according to a Diario de Cuba note denouncing
    the arrests, most were arrested on their way out of their homes. In
    Soler’s case, according to Lady in White Daisy Artiles, five uniformed
    Cuban police officers apprehended her while leaving the house “holding a
    sign demanding freedom for political prisoners.”

    “They took her sign away violently and dragged her into a car,” Artiles
    said. “Then a mob began to yell obscenities at us, calling us
    ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ ‘maggots,’ and shouting ‘this street belongs
    to Fidel.’” “Maggot” is a slur communists use for Cuban exiles.

    This mob activity against peaceful pro-democracy dissidents is
    state-mandated and so common that it has an official name in Cuba: actos
    de repudio, or “acts of rejection.” Actos de repudio may include
    beatings, burnings of international human rights documents, stoning, and
    tarring of dissidents, among other violent acts.

    Diario de Cuba notes that reports from the island suggest that at least
    fifteen Ladies in White in Havana did not get as far as Soler, being
    arrested in their homes in Havana. Another fourteen women were arrested
    throughout the country in Guantánamo, Bayamo, and eastern Santiago de Cuba.

    The arrests follow the publication of a petition on behalf of the Ladies
    in White group requesting that Pope Francis, who has a working
    relationship with dictator Raúl Castro and has visited the island, to
    intervene on their behalf to allow them to attend Mass. They note that
    they have never interrupted a Mass nor has any Catholic clergymen
    complained that their presence was disruptive to a service, but that
    they have for several weeks been unable to attend Mass at the Santa Rita
    church they call their spiritual home in Havana.

    The Ladies in White are a group of mothers, daughters, sisters, and
    wives of political prisoners. The group was founded following the “Black
    Spring” of 2003, when the Castro regime arrested dozens of journalists
    and anti-communist activists to prevent them spreading pro-freedom
    sentiments. Some of these political prisoners have been freed and now
    form part of the greater Ladies in White community.

    The Ladies in White protest the government in the same way every Sunday,
    by dressing in white and silently carrying gladiolas and a photo of
    their imprisoned loved ones from their homes to Santa Rita church, where
    they attend Mass. The group has only missed two Sundays since 2003
    for the government’s mandatory mourning period for late dictator Fidel

    The Cuban government regularly uses violence and actos de repudio to
    attempt to silence the group. Government violence against the Ladies in
    White has grown worse since President Obama announced concessions to
    the Castro regime in late 2014, leading to protests against Obama
    himself. In one incident in 2015, ninety Ladies in White and supporters
    were arrested wearing Obama masks protesting his policies towards Cuba.

    The Ladies in White’s opposition to President Obama made his visit to
    Cuba particularly taxing for them. Berta Soler, their leader, was
    arrested eight times during his visit.

    Raúl Castro’s dictatorship has become increasingly repressive against
    religious Cubans since the policies the Ladies in White protested took
    effect. Among them is the unaffiliated dissident Daniel Llorente, who
    was arrested on May 1–International Workers’ Day–for interrupting the
    government’s Marxist rally by waving an American flag. Llorente was
    beaten publicly and whisked away to a mental institution for, according
    to his son, “believing in God.”

    This week, Llorente sent a letter to the Trump administration through
    his son requesting political asylum in “the world’s greatest defender of
    human rights, hope, liberty, justice, brotherhood, and the pursuit of
    happiness, the United States.” Llorente has begun a hunger strike
    demanding his release, noting that there is no medical evidence that he
    is suffering from mental illness and instead is being kept in a mental
    hospital to prevent international human rights organizations from being
    able to formally brand him a prisoner of conscience.

    The hospital in question, known by Cubans as “Mazorra,” is known for
    using “electroshock therapy” on patients that has been widely rejected
    by international mental health experts.

    Source: Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again
    Trying to Attend Mass –

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