From the Wall Street Journal today (page A16 for those of you who receive the print copy):
For more than a month, Cuba’s Ladies in White have been getting leaned on. Castro’s goons have taken to surrounding them after the women go to Mass in Havana and march for their loved ones in prison. Now Dania Virgen García is in prison.
She didn’t have a loved-one in a Cuban jail when she began processing through the streets of Havana with the Ladies in White on Sundays. But she decided to join them in solidarity against the unjust imprisonment of husbands, fathers and brothers rounded up during the Black Spring of March 2003 and handed harsh sentences for speaking their consciences. She was one of a growing number of women there who call themselves “Ladies in Support.”
On April 22 state security arrested the young blogger, and less than 48 hours later she received a prison sentence of one year and eight months. She has been sent to the country’s largest maximum security prison for women, known commonly by Cubans as “the black veil.” It’s easy to guess why they call it that.
The regime’s assaults on independent thinkers date back 51 years. But Ms. García’s arrest is not without significance. It is the clearest sign to date of the regime’s desperation in the face of popular discontent.
Ms. García is what Cubans call an independent journalist. Carmen Ferreiro, director of information and press for Human Rights Cuba based in Miami, says she met Ms. García online “toward the end of 2009” and helped her get her blog up and running. The two women exchanged emails. “This is how in a short time I came to know that Dania was very devoted to her Catholic faith, that she spoke affectionately about her family, that she enjoyed photography and struggled despite limited resources for human rights in Cuba.”
Ms. Ferreiro reports that Ms. García knew she was under surveillance and explained the threat in an email: “Things in Cuba are not well at all, but I am going to continue this struggle to the death or until whatever they want happens; I will continue to support the Ladies in White, even if they continue to beat us, because what they want is for us to be afraid and we are not going to allow that to happen.”
Though without Dania now, the Ladies in White surely will be walking in the face of an increasingly dangerous mob again this Sunday. The world might want to take notice.