Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Cuba's Ladies In White Hauled Away During Protest

    Mar 18, 2010 3:46 pm US/Eastern
    Cuba's Hauled Away During Protest
    Eliott Rodriguez

    A protest in Cuba Wednesday turned violent when a group of mothers and
    wives came face to face with a pro-government mob. The women were
    marking the 7th anniversary of a crackdown on dissidents, but Cuban
    put an end to their protest.

    The so-called "Ladies in White" held a peaceful march through a Havana
    neighborhood. They carried flowers and called for the release of their
    loved ones. The protest marked the anniversary of Cuba's ""
    of 2003, when 75 dissidents were rounded up and hauled off to jail on
    charges including treason and working for an enemy state. Fifty-three
    remain in jail to this day.

    As the 30 or so women walked along carrying flowers, about 200
    government supporters marched alongside, separated by security agents,
    shouting and harassing the opposition group.

    In response to slurs the women shouted "" and " lives" in
    reference to Tamayo, an imprisoned dissident who died
    from an 85-day hunger strike on February 23. He was the first Cuban
    activist to starve himself to death in protest in nearly 40 years. His
    mother, Reyna Tamayo, took part in the march.

    As the pro-government crowd swelled, state security agents repeatedly
    offered to take the women away in a . Finally, they pulled a up
    and began hauling the women into it, grabbing some by the hair and
    others by the arms and legs as they screamed in protest.

    Aboard the bus the Ladies in White continued their protest and shouted
    'freedom' as they banged on the windows in their now mud-stained white

    "Every day more people are joining our struggle," one woman said. She
    joined the group at a Catholic Church, where they prayed for the release
    of their sons and husbands. Orlando Zapata Tamayo died last
    month after a hunger strike. Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas is
    currently on a hunger strike aimed at calling attention to the plight of
    Cuban political prisoners.

    One of those prisoners is Ricardo Gonzalez, an independent
    who ran a small library inside his home in Havana. Gonzalez gave an
    interview to CBS4's Eliott Rodriguez in Havana a few months before he
    was incarcerated. Gonzalez's relatives in Miami say he has taken part in
    hunger strikes in the past and is in extremely poor .

    The Ladies in White are hoping to focus international attention on the
    plight of Gonzalez and the other political prisoners. As neighbors
    watched Wednesday, the women were confronted by a pro-government mob.
    Cuban police quickly moved in and forcibly placed the women onto a bus,
    and they were taken away. The women were detained for a while and released.

    Despite what happened Wednesday, the Ladies in White vow to continue
    their protests.

    The and Europe have condemned communist-led Cuba over the
    hunger strikes and called for the release of its estimated 200 political

    Cuban leaders say dissidents are mercenaries working for the United
    States and other enemies to subvert the government and have vowed to
    resist international pressure to change their treatment of opponents.

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