Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Castro supporters heckle 'Ladies in White' protesters

Cuban govt supporters demonstrate in Havana, 18 March
Pro-government supporters shouted down the women as they marched

Hundreds of Cuban government supporters have heckled members of the "Ladies in White" rights group marching in protest through the streets of Havana.

The women - wives and mothers of jailed dissidents - are staging a week of protests on the anniversary of Fidel Castro's 2003 Black Spring crackdown.

They are demanding the release of some 50 government critics still being held.

On Wednesday, police briefly arrested some of the women, known as the "Damas de Blanco" because they dress in white.

Those marching on Thursday, the fourth day of protests, included the mother of Orlando Zapata, who died last month after an 85-day prison hunger strike.

"We repudiate them because they are against the revolution and we will defend this revolution until the end," said Yamile Gonzalez, one of the pro-government supporters.

A US state department spokesman said Washington was "dismayed that a peaceful march was disrupted by the Cuban government".

Amnesty International has urged Havana to ensure the safety of the women, saying some alleged they were beaten by police following Wednesday's arrests.

Cuba has lashed out at the criticism, saying the dissidents are common criminals who are paid by the US to destabilise the government.

Print Sponsor

Cuba lashes out at hunger striker
08 Mar 10 |  Americas
Cuban prison hunger striker dies
24 Feb 10 |  Americas
Cuba frees well-known dissident
06 Dec 06 |  Americas
Cuba dissident Miguel Valdes dies
11 Jan 07 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific