Hours before they planned to attend Pope Benedict's outdoor Mass in Havana on Wednesday, two members of a Catholic dissident group were arrested by Cuban police, the Catholic News Service reported. Blanca Reyes, a member of the "Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco) organization who now lives in Spain told CNS that Alejandrina Garcia de la Rivas and Laura Maria Labrada Pollan were arrested Wednesday before 6 a.m.
The Ladies in White march every Sunday after Mass, dressed in white clothing, to protest human rights violations by Cuba's communist regime. Members are the wives and female relatives of former political prisoners. They wear white clothing during their marches, a color chosen to symbolize peace.
The group was formed by the wives and mothers of 75 dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown on Fidel
More than 70 members of the group were briefly detained earlier this month, fueling expectations that the government, which views opponents as mercenaries of the United States, might clamp down to prevent public demonstrations during the pope's stay.
The group had requested a very brief meeting with the Pope during his visit to Cuba, but the Vatican said Benedict had no meetings with dissidents on his schedule.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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