As the Arab Spring rips through the Middle East, anti-government protests have erupted in Latin America in Chile and Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil.
These Latin American protests aren’t intended to bring down their governments, but to goad them into reform. Even so, it's got the governments on their toes.
Except in Cuba.
GlobalPost wrote recently about Cuban opposition activists’ unsuccessful efforts to spark an Arab-Springlike uprising in their own country.
Another squelched protest in Havana over the weekend underscored just how little progress they’ve made — and are likely to make, given the fervor of the government supporters, whether or not they're staged.
A small group known as the “Ladies in White” called off a planned march after they were blocked in a home and harassed. The group is a small collection of wives and daughters of Cubans who were detained in 2003, after the government swept up opposition activists. Those dissidents were released through a deal brokered by the Catholic Church.
But there are about 50 more prisoners still in jail that the Ladies in White want freed. The government says they were involved in violent crimes, but the group says they were political acts.
They planned a protest over the weekend, and gathered at the leader’s home to prepare for their march to a church. Dressed in white tanktops, the women are mostly middle-aged and fed up with what they say is government harassment.
Then the crowd showed up. They shouted insults and praised the government, and blocked the women from leaving the house. Some set up a sound system to blast the Cuban national anthem.
The Ladies say the government organized the counter-protest. The government says it’s organic and that dissidents are connected to American efforts to bring down the government.