Even dissidents hold back as Castro’s death casts a pall over Cuba
By Nelson Acosta and Ana Isabel Martinez | HAVANA
Cuba’s most prominent dissident group called off its weekly protest
march for the first time in 13 years on Sunday following the death of
its nemesis Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader whose passing has
cast a pall over the island.
Castro, an icon of the Cold War who built a communist state on the
doorstep of the United States and defied half a century of U.S. efforts
to topple him, died late on Friday at the age of 90.
The Cuban government has declared a nine-day period of mourning and
suspended alcohol sales and even baseball games.
The Ladies in White dissident group decided to avoid creating tensions
“We’re not going to march today so that the government does not take it
as a provocation and so that they can pay their tributes,” the group’s
leader, Berta Soler, said on Sunday. “We respect the mourning of others
and will not celebrate the death of any human being.”
The group, originally formed in support of husbands jailed for political
opposition, has called protest marches in Havana following Mass at a
Roman Catholic Church each Sunday for the past 13 years. The group is
funded by Cuban exiles in the United States, and the government says its
members are mercenaries doing the bidding of the U.S. government.
Still, their movement has been the rare expression of dissent to be
largely tolerated by the Communist government, although police have
clamped down over the past several months, stopping protesters in their
homes and preventing the demonstrations from taking place.
The difference this week is that dissidents themselves have opted
against even trying, three opposition leaders said.
The cause of Castro’s death was not made public but he had been in poor
health since he nearly died of an intestinal illness in 2006. He
formally ceded power to his younger brother, Raul, in 2008 after ruling
for nearly half a century.
Source: Even dissidents hold back as Castro’s death casts a pall over
Cuba | Reuters – mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSKBN13M0QU