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Cuba denies it is targeting dissidents

The Cuban government has denied it ordered violent repressions of the dissident Ladies in White, according to a Catholic Church statement Monday that added that any violence “against defenseless people has no justification.”

The carefully written statement issued by the Havana archdiocese avoided commenting on whether the violence reported by the women and other dissidents over several recent weeks was true or not.

It also made no mention of the Ladies in White by name, or their meeting with church officials in Havana last week to request that Cardinal Jaime Ortega intercede with the government to halt the violence.

Havana archdiocese spokesman Orlando Marquez issued the statement after a weekend in which members and supporters of the Ladies in White reported only some harassment but no violent crackdowns.

“In the past few days journalists have asked for the church’s opinion on incidents in which the wives of some former prisoners . .. had been mistreated, according to their own declarations,” Marquez wrote in a note emailed to journalists.

“It is not necessary to ask for the church’s opinion,” he said. “It is well known, and we have reiterated it various times, that violence of any kind against defenseless people has no justification.”

The Cuban government “has communicated to the church that no national decision center has given the order to attack these people,” Marquez added.

Ladies in White spokeswoman Berta Soler praised Ortega and the church but said that was a government “big lie” because the violence against the women has come from government-organized mobs and state security agents. The mobs are made up of members of pro-government groups such as the Cuban Federation of Women, and are organized and transported by known state security agents for the Ministry of Interior.

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