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Demonstrations In Cuba
Thursday, July 14, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

Remembering 13 de Marzo

Yesterday was the anniversary of the sinking of the 13 de Marzo ferry - and the murder of more than 40 people aboard.  It happened in 1994 as the people aboard tried to escape Cuba.

Yesterday, there were two demonstrations in Havana in support of the people who died, and both were quickly quashed by fidel's supporters. The Sun-Sentinel's Havana bureau reports the first occured at noon when 18 peaceful people arrived at the Malecon. seawall.

On Wednesday, dissidents chanting "Justice, liberty!" commemorated the 11th anniversary of the sinking of the tugboat by tossing white flowers into the sea and carrying posters with photos of the dead that proclaimed, "These are the victims of a cruel tyrant who claims to defend women and children."

As they people were leaving, a larger group of pro-castro people arrived and surrounded them. The fidelitos shouted "Viva Fidel" and called the demonstrators worms and traitors.  Two demonstrators were arrested.

A few hours later, there was another scene at Havana's Revolution Park. Two men,Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez and Roberto Guerras, were conducting a hunger strike to protest what they said was their eviction by government officials. The paper reports 200 pro-castro people arrived.

Government supporters, who arrived in buses and trucks, shouted angrily, "This street belongs to Fidel! Viva Fidel! Down with the mercenaries!" and unfurled a Cuban flag. It was unclear whether Rodríguez and Guerras were still at the park when the pro-government demonstrators arrived. After one man was surrounded and pushed into a police car that sped away, the group quickly dispersed. Several government supporters refused to answer questions about their demonstration.

The Cuban government says the sinking of the tugboat was an accident. The descriptions of the incident as told by survivors call the government's claim into question.

The Sun-Sentinel story says the demonstrations were peaceful, but Val posts the Reuters story which portrays a more violent reaction - including the beating of demonstrators with sticks.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren