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    Wave of Protests Signal Frustration Inside Cuba

    Wave of Protests Signal Frustration Inside Cuba
    Brian Wagner | Miami 26 March 2010

    Tens of thousands of people have marched in Miami to protest a recent
    crackdown in Cuba against groups on the island.
    Cuban-Americans say there is a rising tide of resentment against the
    Cuban regime and the failure of promised reforms.

    People dressed all in white filled the streets of the Miami neighborhood
    known as Little Havana for the march late Thursday. Many carried Cuban
    flags and chanted messages calling for in Cuba.

    Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan helped organize the event and led
    marchers in the singing of the national anthems of Cuba and the United
    States. Near the close of the march, Estefan said they had received word
    that a dissident group was also marching in Havana. "At this moment they
    are receiving again. They are joined with us here," she said.

    News reports from Havana said Thursday that Cuban police dragged away
    several protesters from the opposition group known as
    (Las ). The group includes many spouses and other
    relatives of dissidents jailed in Cuba. They have held several marches
    this week to demand the release of loved ones and mark the seventh
    anniversary of a major crackdown called "."

    Supporters of pro-democracy groups say other recent protests have taken
    place in Havana and in the countryside, suggesting that frustration at
    the government is on the rise.

    of Miami professor Andy Gomez says it is partly due to
    President 's failure to deliver on his promises to improve
    the quality of life for many Cubans. "The level of frustration has
    continued to increase and yet at the same time, they are going through
    the worst economic crisis since the special period when they lost their
    subsidies from the Soviet Union," he said.

    Pro-democracy groups also have received a new boost from Afro-Cuban
    leaders, who traditionally were seen as a strong supporter of Communist
    policies. That image was shaken last month when black dissident Orlando
    Tamayo died, after an 85-day hunger strike in .

    Orlando Gutierrez leads the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate.
    "Here we have a working class black man from eastern Cuba who was
    peacefully advocating change. They imprison him and then, when he goes
    on a hunger strike, they deny him water for 18 days. They kill him, and
    people know that," said Gutierrez.

    U.S. President Barack Obama said Zapata Tamayo's death and the
    harassment of protesters was deeply disturbing, and he called for the
    release of political prisoners.

    In Cuba, President Castro expressed regret for the death, but the
    incident sparked another wave of marches to protest the conditions of
    jailed dissidents.

    Gutierrez says if marches continue in Cuba, the movement is likely to
    generate even more supporters. "Cuba's pro-democacy movement, the ladies
    in white, they're going into the streets, they are talking to people,
    they are carrying out protests throughout Cuba. People are seeing these
    guys are the option, they are the alternative," he said.

    University of Miami's Andy Gomez says that frustration is also on the
    rise among Cuba's large youth population, especially university students
    concerned about their future in Cuba. But he says Cuba's government has
    a history of quelling dissent before too long.

    "The question I ask myself is up to what point is the government going
    to allow this to continue, because it can get out of hand very quickly,"
    he said.

    Pro-democracy advocates say the could consider new
    measures as well, in an effort to push the Communist nation toward
    greater respect for human rights.

    http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/americas/Wave-of-Protests-Signal-Frustration-Inside-Cuba-89277107.html

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