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Crowd prevents Ladies in White from starting protest

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
updated 7:34 PM EDT, Sat September 24, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Many people surround leader's home, shouting
  • The Ladies in White quietly protest Cuban policies

Havana (CNN) -- Hundreds of government supporters crowded around the home of a Cuban dissident on Saturday, shouting insults and blocking a couple of dozen women inside to prevent them from staging a protest march.

The Ladies in White, a group of female dissidents fighting for human rights and the release of political prisoners, had planned to march to a local church to honor the Virgin of Mercedes, the patron saint of prisoners.

The pro-government crowd shouted insults and political slogans while loudspeakers blasted music and speeches by Fidel Castro.

"Down with the worms!" they shouted.

The Ladies in White stood in the windows, making an "L" for liberty with their hands.

When the women tried to launch their march shortly after 4 p.m. they were forcibly pushed back inside. After about 10 minutes of pushing and shoving, government supporters and a group of large men who appeared to be state security forced the door shut.

"We will continue to fight for democracy," Laura Pollan, one of the founders of the Ladies in White, told CNN.

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