Despite 20 years of violent repression, arrests, and imprisonment, the communist Castro dictatorship has not been able to quash or even stop these brave women from marching in protest.
On a day like today 20 years ago in Havana, Cuba, the organization Ladies in White was created. They were founded on March 30, 2003. The organization is made up of wives, mothers, daughters and relatives of political prisoners from the Black Spring of 2003, when 75 journalists, activists and opposition members were sentenced to up to 28 years in prison for exercising fundamental human rights.
Initially, their fundamental motivation was the liberation of their loved ones imprisoned for political reasons, a cause that with time transcended to the struggle for the liberation of political prisoners and the set of repressive laws and actions that lead Cubans to prison for political reasons.
Ironically, the Ladies in White emerged under the very nose of State Security. Its members met in Villa Marista, National Headquarters of the State Security in Havana when they went to visit and meet their arbitrarily detained relatives. The Ladies became known for wearing white, a color that symbolizes the purity of their ideals. Their activism stood out for marching peacefully carrying a photo of their imprisoned family member and a gladiola in their hands.
They marched mainly on Sundays along the Fifth Avenue of Miramar in Havana towards the Church of Santa Rita where they prayed for the release of their unjustly imprisoned loved ones. The organization expanded from Havana to other provinces to become a national movement. Its founding leader Laura Pollan, a teacher by profession and wife of the prisoner of the group of 75 Hector Maceda sentenced to 20 years in jail, died in a Havana hospital on October 14, 2011 under circumstances that need clarification.
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