The husband of an acclaimed dissident Cuban blogger was punched and shouted down by a pro-government mob after he challenged the presumed state agents who earlier roughed up his wife to a street corner debate.
As he promised earlier on his blog, Reinaldo Escobar went to the intersection of Havana’s 23rd and G avenues for the proposed discussion.
On Thursday, Mr Escobar’s wife posted President Barack Obama’s responses to her written questions on Cuba-US relations on her Generacion Y blog.
Mr Escobar was waiting with at least two companions when he got into an argument with another man.
What appeared to a prearranged group of government supporters then moved in, yelling obscenities. They hit him and slapped him in the head and pulled his hair and shirt, but never knocked him down.
Soon, Mr Escobar and the others were surrounded by men thought to be state security agents who protected them as they walked about two blocks.
All around, Cubans pushed and screamed “Fidel! Fidel! Fidel!” and “Get out worm!”, slang for Cuban-American exiles.
At one point, a band organised as part of a nearby street festival joined the mob, marching through flower beds on the median of a boulevard. The music added an odd soundtrack to a tense situation.
After about 10 minutes, Mr Escobar and the others were placed in unmarked cars and driven away.
Ahead of Mr Escobar’s arrival, Cuba’s Young Communists Union organised a street book fair on the same corner, blocking off traffic.
It was unclear if the security agents who came were the same ones who presumably assaulted his wife, Yoani Sanchez, two weeks earlier.
After the incident, Mr Escobar challenged the alleged assailants to a verbal duel. Ms Sanchez answered the phone at the couple’s apartment moments after Friday’s incident, but hung up without confirming where her husband was taken.