Cuban police keep dissidents away from Pope Francis

Castro's opposition: Cuban police targets Ladies in White group

By Calvin Hughes - Anchor

HAVANA - At least two dozen Cuban dissidents on their way to the Revolution Plaza couldn't make it to Pope Francis' Sunday morning Mass celebration.

Cuban police arrested the group of "Ladies in White," an opposition movement of relatives of jailed dissidents, both Saturday and Sunday, activists report on Twitter. Among them was Berta de los Angeles Soler Fernandez, 52, the leader of the group.

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Her last tweet was at 5:20 a.m.: "If we are not there by 7 a.m. at the entrance of the bus terminal that means we have disappeared."

Cuban dissidents report that there were arrests in Havana and Santa Clara early Sunday morning.  Soler reported on Twitter that they were also arrested Saturday and added that some of the dissidents detained were supposed to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican's diplomatic residence Saturday night.

Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said there were 30 to 40 opposition activists detained in both cities.

The detentions are a common occurrence for Ladies in White on Sundays when the hold their marches to the Santa Rita Catholic Church in Havana. The group is also critical of the Roman Catholic Church and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega for failing to advocate on their behalf.

Soler said on Twitter that the Ladies in White were planning to also have a presence during Pope Francis' Mass in Holguin and Santiago de Cuba.  According to the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation Cuban police often carry the women to buses to detain them and later release them, as a form of harassment.

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