O’Grady on Las Damas de Blanco

Mary O’grady on The Ladies in White at the WSJ:

Fearsome Ladies

The women who scare Castro.

Thirty women walking with gladiolas don’t usually strike a frightening pose—unless you’re the government in Cuba. Last Wednesday, the Castro government broke up such a peaceful march in Havana, lest the courage of the “ladies in white” become contagious.

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the “Black Spring,” when Cuban state security rounded up scores of journalists, political dissidents, writers, poets and independent librarians that the regime decided were a threat to the revolution. Seventy-five of them received harsh prison sentences in summary trials.

Many of the wives, sisters and mothers of the prisoners have petitioned the government for improved prison conditions and their release. Dressed in white, they have highlighted their calls by walking each Sunday after Catholic Mass through the streets of Havana. In 2005, they were awarded the European parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The government has alternately ignored or harassed them, but the ladies march on.

Wednesday’s procession—one of seven days of protest to mark the anniversary of the mass arrests—included the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the 42-year-old human rights activist who died in a Cuban prison last month. Reina Tamayo is becoming something of a national icon, and she described her Wednesday experience this way to the Cuban Democratic Directorate in Miami:

“They dragged me, I am all bruised. They beat me. They called me a [racial slur; she is black]. They will know this mother’s pain. When I get to my home town of Banes in my home province of Holguin they will have to bury me with my son. But my people will remember me. They will remember me. . . . The Castro brothers cannot be forgiven. They cannot be forgiven.” No wonder Fidel is afraid.

1 thought on “O’Grady on Las Damas de Blanco”

  1. O’Grady rocks to a degree that very few other journalists can even think of reaching. Good morning!

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