The opposition group Ladies in White
, founded by relatives of people arrested during the Black Spring
of 2003, has rattled the Cuban government quite a lot recently, and the authorities responded with the usual arrests and detentions
. Nineteen members were detained one Saturday evening, 36 more protesters, including leader Bertha Soler, were arrested the next morning, and 24 more were taken to jail the same day, after mass, when they tried to march toward downtown Havana
There is little doubt that protesters and dissidents groups had the Pope's visit
in mind when they tried to put pressure on the Cuban government. Pope Benedict XVI is set to remain on the island-nation for two days, starting March 26. Protesters also want to attract international attention on human rights abuses committed in the country.
While the US administration has asked publicly
the Cuban authorities to "abandon their tactics of intimidation", the Castro government has not issued any public comment on the incidents. Cuban police did not only arrest and detain protesters, they also raided
the Church of Charity, in Havana, and removed protesters who had been occupying it for two days.