Ladies in White (100+) Arrested in Cuba

The Ladies in White are one of the groups most feared by the Cuban government, with their members facing frequent harassment and detentions. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Around a hundred activists of the Ladies in White and other dissidents were temporarily detained Sunday during a protest march in Havana, reported dpa news.

The arrests took place when activists tried to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of a boat in which at least 37 people were killed when trying to flee Cuba.

Opposition groups accuse the Cuban security forces of causing the tragedy by intentionally ramming the tugboat in which the victims tried to flee the island. The government maintains that it was an accident.

After celebrating their traditional march Sunday in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar, the Ladies detoured from their usual route to try to pay tribute to the victims of the tragedy, the group’s leader Berta Soler told dpa.

“We were detained along with human rights activists from other organizations when we sought to approach the coast, the sea, to lay flowers for the victims of the tugboat incident,” said Soler. “We were arrested in a violent manner,” she noted.

The leader of the group that began as wives and relatives of political prisoners also accused the government’s security agents of preventing 11 Ladies in White from reaching the march, which usually occurs outside a church after the noon mass.

Most were released a few hours later, Soler said. The last dissidents were released around 11 pm, she added.

Soler noted that the authorities arrested a total of about 130 activists of the Ladies in White throughout the country. The figure “may increase,” as more information comes in, she said.

Las Damas de Blanco were founded after the wave of arrests of dissidents in 2003 known as the “Black Spring”. Their peaceful marches to demand the release of their relatives, gave their situation international notoriety. The prisoners were finally released in 2010 and 2011 after an agreement brokered by the Catholic Church and the Cuban and Spanish governments.

The Cuban government does not recognize the political opposition on the island and accuses dissidents of being “mercenaries” financed from abroad to destabilize the country.

18 thoughts on “Ladies in White (100+) Arrested in Cuba

  • The point is that Cubans flee because under Castro they see no hope of a better future. They flee not just to the US, but also to Europe and Latin America. They would still flee ife there was another policy in the US.
    As far as the 13 de marzo goes: the witnesses quoted by Amnesty and others (see the videos I posted) show that it was a government run operation. The policy of killing people is confirmed by the shooting in La Fe. Both within a month.
    Amnesty International and the IACHR have placed the blame on the Castro regime because of its documented policy of killings.
    The regime did not prosecute, even worse praised, the murderers. That says it all: government sanctioned under an existing policy of killings.

  • The point is, many more thousands (millions?) of Mexicans would flee their country if the US wet-foot-dry-foot policy also applied to them.

    Only the sinking of the “13 de Marzo” was ever mentioned by Amnesty International, and even their account of it presents no credible evidence of any sort of high-level conspiracy. Quite the contrary, as I have shown.

    I am claiming only that this was a hijacking gone horribly wrong. The dockworkers tried to stop this crime, something for which I doubt were trained. They may have been trying to board the fleeing vessel, after failing to get it to stop or turn around, colliding with it instead, with tragic consequences. But you can’t blame someone from trying to stop a crime in progress.

  • Way more people would have left Cuba if Cubans were free to travel like Mexicans. Even today the expensive passports are coded to block people from leaving.

    As shown before: both the shooting in La Fe and the sinking of the 13 de marzo within a month in 1994 show there was a policy to shoot those that want to leave.

    As you yourself have confirmed: witnesses confirmed the coast guard “tiger” was leading the attacks and did nothing to interfere with the killings. the MININT men – not mere dockworkers – that repeatedly rammed the boat and hosed people down were taken to court for “accidental killing”.

    Are you claiming mere dockworkers would – on their own – be allowed to kill 37 people and get away with it?

    From Amnesty International:
    “Several of the survivors allege that their vessel sank after it had been pursued and assaulted by three other vessels, apparently acting under official instructions, and that those on board were given no opportunity to surrender. The Cuban Government denied any responsibility for the
    sinking of the tugboat or for the loss of life, alleging that it was an accident caused by the irresponsible actions of those on board. However, Amnesty International has received compelling evidence, including eyewitness testimony from several of the survivors, indicating that
    those on board the three pursuing vessels employed excessive force disproportionate to the actual situation and seemed to be taking orders from a fourth vessel.”
    AMR 25/013/1997

    The IACHR leaves no doubt who is responsible for the extra-judicial killings: the Cuban regime.


    105. The Cuban State is responsible for violating the right
    to life (Article 1 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Dutiesof Man) of the 41 people who were shipwrecked and perished as a result of the sinking of the tug “13 de Marzo”, which events occurred seven miles off the Cuban coast on July 13, 1994.

    More witnesses:

    Stop blaming the victims. Not the fact they could go to the US was what led these people to flee. The repression by the Castro regime and the hopeless situation in Cuba are what drive people to flee. That is why more than 2 million Cubans have left.

  • Way more people would flee from Mexico if the US regime extended the same wet-foot-dry-foot policy to Mexicans. Maybe you should inflict genocidal sanctions on them as well.

    Any open minded person reading the Amnesty International on the sinking of the “13 de Marzo” would have to conclude that so-called witness accounts were not credible. The only evidence of an “official operation” in Amnesty’s report is based interviews with two alleged survivors of the sinking of the 13 de Marzo. One was being held in the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was among thousands of Cubans in detention after being picked up by the US Coast Guard while trying to reach the USA by sea (after Cuban authorities ceased to intercept illegal departures). What wouldn’t he say? Choosing to remain anonymous, he said he had been picked up by one of the three pursuing tugboats after the13 de Marzo sank. (This contradicts other accounts saying that the tugboats did not come to the aid of the survivors in the water. Some accounts even claim the tugboats created a “whirlpool” effect to drown them — a physical impossibility!) He also said that although those on board these three vessels were dressed in civilian clothes, he did not believe, as the Cuban authorities clamied, that they were ordinary dock-workers, especially as several of the crew of one boat appeared to be suffering from seasickness!

    Their second witness, Sergio Perodin Pérez, interviewed two years later in the USA, said that a Cuban coastguard vessel, which had followed the 13 de Marzo and the other three tugboats out of the port, “appeared to be directing operations by radio.” How he was able to make that determination is left to the reader’s imagination. Amnesty’s report does not say anything further about these alleged radio transmissions. Not even if they were actually overheard by Pérez or any of the other survivors. If they had such information, it most certainly would have been featured prominently in their report. And while it is likely that there was some radio contact, it is a stunning speculative leap on the part of Amnesty International to go from this to claiming that the crews of the pursuing tugs were being directed to sink the 13 de Marzo as part some kind of high-level conspiracy!

    Pérez also said that he believes, from information that he and other survivors were able to obtain from “various sources,” that the authorities had found out about the hijacking attempt some time beforehand and were lying in wait for them–presumably to make some kind of example of them. As Amnesty reported, however, all survivors were rescued by the crews of the pursing tugboats or the coast guard vessel in this case,,contrary to supposed witness accounts! In addition, the Cuban government, only a few days after this regrettable incident, ceased to intercept any illegal departures by sea, allowing large numbers Cubans to “escape” to the US. Now, what kind of “example” was that?

    The US government put an end to this exodus itself with its infamous “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy. The US Coast Guard, since then, has itself intercepted illegal, would-be immigrants from Cuba at sea and repatriated them — as it would for other countries of the region. Those that manage to evade the Coast Guard in a deadly cat-and-mouse game, however, can claim their “prize” of automatic US residency status — for Cubans only! Remember that even at the time of the sinking, tens of thousands of Cubans had been legally emigrating to the US every year. Encouraged by murderous US policies, the hijackers were simply trying to jump the queue.

  • As usual you are trying to blame the victims that flee the Castro regime. People don’t flee because they have a place to go, they flee to a better place because they want to leave. if Cubans were happy and content under Castro 2 million wouldn’t have fled.
    The sinking of the “13 de marzo” in 1994 – like the Canimar massacre in 1980 – and the shooting dead in the same month of a person trying to flee by boat are two expressions of the policy of the Castro regime: kill those that try to flee as an example.
    As far as the “13 de marzo” goes: both Amnesty International and the IACHR have placed the blame on the murderous Castro regime and its polices.

  • There is no credible evidence that the sinking of “13 de Marzo” was anything other than a hijacking gone horribly wrong, even according to the report of this incident from Amnesty International. (See my recent posting here on this topic.) There was no high-level conspiracy. On the contrary, the Cuban government’s immediate response was to put into effect a moratorium on the intercepting of any boats leaving the island. It was only under extreme US pressure that Cuba resumed this practice. The US regime, for its part, had the US Coast Guard do its part to stem the illegal emigration from Cuba by picking them up at sea and repatriating them (see the infamous “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy).

    So, it would seem that the only genocide here is in fact your beloved embargo. Makes you proud, don’t it, America?

    It also doesn’t surprise me that various capitalist regimes are bankrolling these traitors, be it with cash “prizes”, discrete bank deposits or whatever.

  • They want the same thing: the freedom of their relatives incarcerated by a dictatorship.
    The fact that some on the Argentinian members forget what their true aim was and started selectively supporting dictators of the left like Castro while reviling dictatorships of the right is of no importance.
    The Cuban Damas de Blanco are to be held in the same esteem as those mothers, sisters, wives and daughters anywhere that fights against dictatorship.

  • The only confirmed genocide, illustrated by the “13 de marzo” is by the Castro regime.
    The Ladies in white are the recipients of international awards from – amongst others – the European Parliament.
    Your show again that you are even more extreme than the Castro regime.
    The Ladies in White are in fact pro-Cuba. They merely are anti-Castro but then you think Cuba is just Castro.

  • Soler was recently hobnobbing in Miami with the perpetrators of the genocidal US embargo targeting every man, women and child on the island. She went even farther than most other “dissidents” on the island by actually expressing support from these cruel and inhumane sanctions. She is a traitor. It is a wonder she wasn’t jailed as soon as she got back to Cuba. But she wasn’t. She continues to spew her anti-Cuban venom in the international media.

  • You should be honoured that a pro-democracy group in Cuba shares a similar, but not the same, name as your Argentine group.

    At the same time, perhaps you should apologize an behalf of Argentina for producing that sociopath, Ernesto Guevara, who brought so much pain, suffering, destruction and death to Cuba.

  • Lighten up, That’s Argentina and this is Cuba. If you have a group with the same name so be it, that doesn’t offend anyone. Each country can have whatever they want; you should however learn what these ladies are fighting for before providing an ignorant comment, If you live in a free country and I assume you do, then you probably can go on the streets and wine about how bad is going for you and the government takes without giving. In Cuba, there is no such wining. So stop wining.

  • Well, let people be in oppositon but I just cannot accept that this Cuban group takes the name Las Damas de Blanco!!! Doing so they offend Las Madres de
    Blanco en Argentine.

  • Cuban television never ceases showing demonstrations in other countries by socialist groups protesting against various democratic decisions. The state television carefully selects cuts where police forces are involved as if to demonstrate that democratic countries are police states. I have explained repeatedly to Cubans that our freedom includes freedom to demonstrate and that organisations can apply to the police notifying them beforehand of thei date, time and place of their protest. That the police will then ensure their protection against disruptors. To Cubans such freedom is unimaginable.
    The ladies in white are courageous and deserve admiration and respect.
    Where are Mr. Goodrich and other Castro regime admirers with their comments?

  • Here is an excellent documentary about the tugboat massacre by the Castro “government” of the 13 de Marzo tugboat in 1994! The director Mari Rodríguez Ichaso is the sister of famous Cuban director Leon Ichaso.

    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY “Niños del Paraíso” by Mari Rodríguez Ichaso. – Víctimas del remolcador “13 de marzo”.- Victims of the Tugboat Massacre in their own words.

  • If you haven’t noticed, this isn’t something new. The Castro regime has been behaving this way, every day, for the past 55 years.

  • The detaining of non-violent demonstrators just goes to show how paranoid the Cuban regime is. Every time I feel sorry for Cuba’s plight and the U.S. embargo, they do something stupid like this to show how repressive the Cuban government really is. Maybe they really do deserve the embargo.

  • To what end does the Castro tyranny believe these detentions and arrest violence serve? It seems to serve no purpose in deterring future protests. Why not leave these women to march to the sea, pay their respects and let them go home unmolested. Most Cubans are too busy worrying about what to eat to concern themselves with the Ladies in White. I suspect that the Castros also understand how harmless these gladiola-armed protesters are and instead choose to harass them just to flex their power over the Cuban people.

  • The Castro regime has been harassing, arresting & beating these women every Sunday for over a year now. What does it say of a State which fears a group of flower carrying women going to church?

Comments are closed.