Cuban police scramble to crush Virgin Mary march

(Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/Getty Images)

It appears that the more things allegedly change in communist Cuba, the more they remain the same.

Cuban police arrested over 100 pro-democracy dissidents on Sunday, looking to shut down a planned protest to observe the feast day of the patron saint of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity, Breitbart News reported.

The tweet below showing Cubans arrests translates: “Opponents in Cuba call for a demonstration and the government reacts with a hard hand.”

A march to venerate the Virgin Mary was organized by the Patriotic Union of Cuba and the Cuba Decide election movement, according to the site.

Protesters were demanding that the Castro regime respect the basic human rights of its people, and showing solidarity with the Ladies in White, a dissident organization of wives and other female relatives of jailed Cubans.

The event is also called the “Sunflower March” because sunflowers are traditionally offered to Our Lady of Charity.

Citing activists on the ground, Breitbart reported that Cuban police “began banning the sale of sunflowers over the weekend in response to the growing use of the flower as a symbol of freedom.”

The Madrid-based human rights group Cuban Prisoners Defenders listed 98 people who have been arrested in Cuba since Friday.

“After besieging dozens of houses of activists of the peaceful democratic opposition in Cuba, the island’s government with special troops and State Security has raided numerous of these houses, stolen all kind of belongings from them and arrested much more than a hundred activists, mainly to avoid a demonstration convened throughout the country,” CPD said in a press release on Monday.

The organization added that this has become an annual “tradition.”

“The arrests each September 8 are unfortunately already as ‘traditional’ among human rights activists, as the same celebration of the day of the beloved ‘Cachita,’ although this year the coincidence of the call to demonstrate in parks and public places has unleashed a wave of substantively additional violence,” the group said.

Communist authorities reportedly raided the national headquarters of the Cuban Patriotic Union in Santiago de Cuba, and organization leader José Daniel Ferrer was arrested.

Social media posts noted that Ferrer was still unaccounted for.

The U.S. embassy in Havana responded to his arrest by tweeting a message to Ferrer from Charge d’Affairs Mara Tekach: “The United States supports you and the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom. We demand freedom for those detained. The Cuban people deserve more.”

Ferrer had met with Tekach prior to being arrested, and a photo of that meeting was included in the tweet:

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