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HAVANA, Cuba (CBSMiami) — The arrival of President Barack Obama to Cuba on Sunday came after more than 50 dissidents and demonstrators were arrested in the streets of Havana.

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Before Air Force One’s late afternoon touchdown, the wives and relatives of jailed anti-Castro activists, known as the Ladies in White, marched along the city streets like they have every Sunday for the past 46 weeks going to and from Mass.

The human rights group has repeatedly faced challenges during their protests, often done in silence, including arrests and beatings.

With dozens of journalists in the area, video on Sunday showed the women march near state security and a pro-government crowd, spreading fliers and papers about their cause. They each then began laying down in the middle of the street in an act of protest, as reported by CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

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Many were picked up, carried onto buses and put into custody amid shouting from an angry crowd.  A pro-government rally was then held with a party like atmosphere.

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President Obama has repeatedly said he plans on meeting with local dissidents during his scheduled trip.

Berta Soler, one of the leaders of the Ladies in White, said she received an invitation to meet with President Obama. She added that she’s not hopeful that any real results will come from it.

Long time human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez will also meet with President Obama.

“I hope the President brings the message that we will soon see an end to this dictatorship,” Sanchez told CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez.

On Monday, President Obama is scheduled to meet with Raul Castro.  Later he’ll meet with Cuban entrepeneurs before attending a state dinner.

CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez and Rudabeh Shahbazi are in Havana and will have live continuing coverage of the President’s trip during the CBS4 newscasts.


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