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Cuban mob of paramilitaries attacked dissidents in downtown Havana.

Members of Ladies in White, a group of cuban female dissidents, carrying flowers, take part in a march marking the anniversary of a major government crackdown on dissent, in Havana, Thursday, March 18, 2010.  (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Members of Ladies in White, a group of cuban female dissidents, carrying flowers, take part in a march marking the anniversary of a major government crackdown on dissent, in Havana, Thursday, March 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Hundreds of government supporters surrounded a small group of Cuban dissidents as they marched through Havana on Thursday on the seventh anniversary of the arrests of their loved ones, screaming abuse but otherwise allowing the protest to proceed peacefully.

The Ladies in White, most of them mothers and wives of some of the 75 dissidents arrested in the March 18, 2003 crackdown, have vowed to protest every day this week to call attention to the plight of political prisoners, many of whom have been sentenced to decades behind bars.

“We are marching because we have spent seven years in pain and suffering since the jailing of 75 peaceful opposition figures,” said Tania Montoya Vazquez, whose husband was sentenced to five years in jail in 2008 for dissident activity. “We are marching in favor of freedom, in favor of change and in favor of human rights, which should be respected and not violated.”

Cuba´s  human rights record has come into sharp focus since the death of dissident hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo last month drew international condemnation. Cuba has issued a series of biting responses to the criticism, saying it will not give in to pressure.

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