Thirty-nine members of the Havana-based human rights group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) were reportedly assaulted yesterday during a peaceful protest to commemorate International Human Rights Day. An estimated 200 government supporters attacked the women near the Museum of the Revolution as they set free a group of doves and distributed copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
An additional ten people were detained in a separate protest in a park in the neighborhood of El Vedado during which a British diplomat was also forced to leave the premises by pro-government groups. According to Ladies in White director Laura Pollán, this year’s attacks were the worst since the group was founded in 2003. The organization was founded to protest the detention of 75 dissidents during Cuba’s Black Spring.
Susan Purcell, Director for the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami in Florida perceives mob violence as a new political move by the Castro Regime to prove "that the demonstrators' views are not shared by the general population”. The assault comes three weeks after dissident blogger Reinaldo Escobar, who's married to blogger Yoani Sanchez, was attacked by a pro-government mob.
Arturo Valenzuela is finally settling in as assistant secretary for the western hemisphere on the 6th floor of the State Department. But, the distinguished diplomat who most recently served in that job—Tom Shannon—is still waiting for his next post due to another hold on his nomination to be ambassador to Brazil.
Back in early November, when Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) lifted his holds on Arturo Valenzuela as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere and Tom Shannon as ambassador to Brazil, newcomer Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) slapped a hold on Shannon’s nomination the very next day.
Senator DeMint’s hold was ostensibly due to concerns of how the U.S. handled Honduras, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Conspicuously absent was Cuba. Right then and there, that should have been a red flag of more complaints to come against Shannon, as Cuba is the ostensible focus for these new questions.
As soon as Sen. LeMieux lifts his hold, I’m told, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) will take his place, and after Sen. Vitter lifts his hold, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will step up with his own hold. Like whack-a-mole. As soon as one goes down, another will pop up.