A Cuban dissident group is criticizing the country's government for attempting to discredit the organization's efforts in a recent television program.
On Feb. 26, the Cuban government broadcast a television interview with two agents who had infiltrated various dissident groups. One of the agents, Carlos Manuel Serpa Maciera, pretended to be a journalist for the American press, sent to report on the Ladies in White. Serpa Maciera accused the group of being allies of the United States and characterized the group’s leader, Laura Pollan, as “manipulative” and obsessed with “the limelight and with money.”
The group – Ladies in White – comprises wives and family members of the 75 dissidents arrested in March 2003, during what has been called the Black Spring. The members carry out peaceful protests dressed in white for the release of their husbands and relatives.
“This is a way to discredit us,” Pollan responded following the release of the interview. “There is a lot of unrest in the world, and I think they want the people to have a negative impression of the Ladies in White.”
She said she did not suspect that Serpa was a government agent, but admitted that it would not be surprising if the government had gained access “to every (dissident) organization at every level.”
However, she added, “The Ladies in White have never done anything in secret,” noting that member meetings are open to the public.
The next day, the Ladies in White continued to be the target of harassment, with some 100 Cuban government supporters waiting for them on a street in downtown Havana, where the group planned to meet after Sunday Mass.
Twenty members of the Ladies in White were heckled for several hours by the supporters, who kept them encircled in the area. Surrounding streets were blocked off, and two ambulances and several police cars were stationed nearby.
In 2005 the members of Ladies in White were granted the Andrei Sakharov Award for Freedom Thought by the European Parliament.
More information about the group can be found at: http://www.damasdeblanco.com/