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.