- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Inmates’ wives arrested at protest

HAVANA — A group of Cuban women peacefully demonstrating for the release of their imprisoned husbands were roughed up by a mob and arrested then released yesterday near the offices of President Raul Castro.

The 10 members of an organization known as the Women in White gathered at a park at the edge of Cuba’s Revolution Square, near the government and Communist Party headquarters. They wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the faces and names of their loved ones but carried no signs.

A bus pulled up and about 20 female corrections officers tried to arrest the women, who sat on the sidewalk, clasped arms and refused to move. A mob of about 100 government supporters, mainly women from nearby government buildings, quickly entered the fray, yelling insults while pushing the women, picking them up and shoving them into the waiting bus.

“After forcing them into the bus, they dropped the Havana residents at their homes and sent the others back to their homes in the provinces,” Marta Bonachea, a spokeswoman for the women, told Reuters.

The women’s husbands and other relatives were arrested in a massive government crackdown in 2003, which landed 75 dissidents in prison for long terms on charges of working with the United States to subvert the government. Fifty-five of the dissidents remain behind bars.


President leads in pre-election poll

SANTO DOMINGO — Dominican President Leonel Fernandez maintains a comfortable lead over his closest rival ahead of next month’s general election in the Caribbean nation, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.

The Gallup survey shows Mr. Fernandez of the centrist Dominican Liberation Party winning 51.7 percent of the vote versus 37.4 percent for Miguel Vargas Maldonado of the social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party.

Mr. Fernandez, 54, is running for a second term in the May 16 election, and his government has been widely credited with pulling the Dominican Republic, which is increasingly dependent on tourism, out of a deep economic crisis triggered by the scandalous collapse of a major bank in 2003.

Poverty remains widespread in the nation of 9 million, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

Commissioned by the Hoy newspaper and conducted between April 11 and 15, the poll was based on responses from 1,200 people across the country.


U.S. tourist dies on treacherous road

LA PAZ — Rescue officials say a U.S. tourist was killed after losing control of his mountain bike and plunging off a cliff while biking down Bolivia’s treacherous “Highway of Death.”

La Paz firefighter Ramiro Torres told the Associated Press that Ken Mitchell died Saturday afternoon after falling about 230 feet. He did not know Mr. Mitchell’s hometown.

Mr. Mitchell, 45, was riding with one of several tourist agencies that offer guided trips down the mountain road, which is known for its breathtaking views, hairpin turns and steep drops.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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