Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Las Damas de Blanco

            I like to try to keep up with the work of the Human Rights Foundation and received a message recently about Cuba’s Ladies in White. The Ladies in White (“Las Damas de Blanco”) is a Cuban civil society organization founded by the very brave wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners jailed during the Castro regime’s “Black Spring” crackdown in 2003. Group members wear white to symbolize their commitment to a peaceful struggle for freedom. Despite repeated arrests and beatings by Cuban authorities, the group marches every Sunday in different locations around Cuba to protest human rights violations under the Castro dictatorship. Berta Soler has led the group since the death of founder Laura Pollán in 2011.
            Recently, the Ladies performed a Sunday march for freedom and human rights after a visit to the church of San Jose de Colon in Matanzas Province. According to the Human Rights Foundation website:

          “A group of government supporters cut off the protest and proceeded to beat and harass the group members, striking and shouting insults at the 12 female members of the group. Sayli Navarro, a group member who took part in the march on July 14, stated that after the mob attacked the peaceful protest, the Ladies took refuge in the home of one of the group members, where “the mob gathered outside her house” and “they began to carry out an ‘act of repudiation,’” throwing objects at the women and shouting insults.
On August 4, the Ladies in White asked Dionisio García Ibáñez, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, to intervene on their behalf and request that the Cuban government stop the regime’s repressive actions against them.
          “That same day, while a group of Ladies attended mass in the southeastern city of Cárdenas, a crowd of government supporters gathered outside the church and waited for the members to come out. However, the Ladies were able to elude the mob and return to their homes unharmed.
          “These recent events remind us that the campaign of harassment, persecution, hostility, and threats against the Ladies in White is an ongoing pattern of militant behavior sponsored and directed by the Casto regime,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “These brave women face persecution, attacks, and arrests every Sunday during their peaceful protest. Their deplorable treatment at the hands of the government and its supporters underscores the fact that the story of ‘reform’ peddled by the Cuban government is fiction circulated by the Castro brothers.”

          The HRF is nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a special focus on the Americas. Check out their website: they do good – and important – work.