Will the Ladies in White Protests Affect Cuba’s Foreign Relations?
March 19, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Cuba’s “Ladies in White,” a group of female relatives of dissidents imprisoned in 2003, protested for a fourth day in Havana on Thursday.
The protesters were taunted by supporters of the Castro government, who called them “gusanos,” Spanish for “worms,” a derisive epithet that refers to anti-revolutionary exiles. The taunting degenerated into scuffles on Wednesday, but no physical altercations occurred on Thursday.
The Cuban government disputes the legitimacy of the Ladies in White, saying they are counter-revolutionary mercenaries paid by Washington.
The continuing tension between the Cuban government and the political dissidents may strain the country’s international relations.
The dissidents’ activities will no doubt continue to hamper U.S.-Cuban relations as well. Despite expectations that President Obama would open U.S.-Cuba relations upon taking office, relations have advanced little, partly because U.S. officials under Obama have continued the tradition of meeting with political dissidents. The Cuban government views such meetings as a form of intervention.
South and Central American governments, however, have remained largely silent, with the prominent exception of the incoming Piñera administration in Chile. Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who was in Cuba when Tamayo died, later said “We have to respect the decisions of the Cuban legal system and the government to arrest people on the laws of Cuba, like I want them to respect Brazil.”
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Image: Globovisión @ flickr.