United States

Police, Loyalists Halt Pre-Obama Cuba Protest

Counter-protesters and police have broken up an anti-government demonstration in Havana hours before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for his historic visit.

About 300 government backers surrounded about 50 members and backers of the Ladies in White group shouting insults and revolutionary slogans. There was some shoving back and forth.

The women were taken into custody by female police officers and loaded onto buses in an operation that lasted about 10 minutes. In such cases, protesters are typically are detained for a few hours and then released.

The number of protesters, counter-protesters and police appeared to be about the same as in past incidents, which take place in the Cuban capital each Sunday after the Ladies attend Catholic Mass, march silently along 5th Avenue and then join other dissidents to try to march into a residential neighborhood.

Ladies in White leader Berta Soler said before the confrontation she would like to tell Obama that ``when you do business with a totalitarian government, you have to set conditions.''

She says that she's among a group of dissidents invited to meet with Obama and intends to do so. In the past, Soler declined a similar invitation from Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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