Havana – The Ladies in White, the dissident movement that lobbies for the release of political prisoners in Cuba, asked the Catholic Church to intervene with the Castro regime so that the latter would halt its "harassment" of the group.
A spokesperson for the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, told Efe that on Tuesday they met at the Havana Archdiocese to relay to the prelates their concern about "the acts of harassment, repudiation and repression that we Ladies in White and other activists have experienced for the sake of human rights on the entire island."
Soler said that the Ladies met with Monsignor Ramon Suarez Porcari, chancellor of the Havana Archdiocese, and his spokesman, Orlando Marquez, whom she said were "very receptive" to their remarks.
She said that Porcari and Marquez will express the concerns of the group to the Havana archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, so that he may speak about the situation with the government of Raul Castro.
Marquez was reported to be in a meeting with the cardinal when Efe tried to contact him on Wednesday.
Over the past two months, the Ladies in White have denounced several acts of repudiation and violence against their members, including arrests in Havana and the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
On Aug. 18, the group complained that dozens of government supporters prevented them from holding a march in downtown Havana to protest earlier incidents in the eastern part of the country.
"We know that if it were up to the Catholic Church and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, those tortures would not have existed, but the government is unpredictable," said Soler.
Ortega took charge of an unprecedented dialogue process between the Church and the Castro government, with the support of Spain, which ultimately resulted in the gradual release of 126 political prisoners between July 2010 and April 2011.
The releases included the 52 remaining incarcerated members of the "Group of 75" who were sentenced and imprisoned in the repressive crackdown of 2003 that sparked the emergence of the Ladies in White.
Meanwhile, Soler referred to the statements made in Miami by Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanes against the mistreatment of the Ladies in White.
Milanes, a self-proclaimed supporter of the Cuban Revolution, said that he felt shame and indignation over the mistreatment of the group of women and called those who attack them "vile" and "a horde of supposed revolutionaries."
Soler said that it is "very important that other artists and writers" express themselves in Cuba and that Milanes say on the communist-ruled island what he has said abroad.