Posts Tagged ‘Damas de Blanco’

Obama makes campaign stop, meets Coco & Berta

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

after a $32,000/plate dinner, With Charlie Crist as guest, President Obama raises cash in Miami, chats with Cuban dissidents Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas and Berta Soler.

Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.

Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec. There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

Obama told two of Cuba’s leading dissidents in South Florida that he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.

“The most important thing here was the recognition by the president of the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” dissident Guillermo Farinas said minutes after the meeting.

The other dissident is Berta Soler, of the Ladies in White.

Speaking by the pool of Mas Santos’ house, Obama said his policy of supporting civil society in Cuba is beginning to show results, but that Washington must continue to be “creative and thoughtful” in its policies.

Results, you say? Cuban human rights monitor reports 763 political arrests in October.

Just last week Fariñas was beaten up by a mob in his hometown of Santa Clara, Cuba.

If you like your policy of supporting civil society in Cuba, you can keep it. Period.


Lady in White met Pope in white

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Cuban dissident Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, was able to exchange greetings with Pope Francis yesterday at the end of a general audience held in St. Peter’s Square

Soler handed the pope two letters from the wives of political prisoners, according to the French news agency AFP. Soler later told the media that the pope had given her a blessing and asked her to continue her fight.

Carlos Eire points out that

It may seem like an insignificant encounter to some, but this is a big deal, and the rulers of the Castro Kingdom will gnash their teeth when they see this photo. The Cuban flag draped between the two figures in white will be a great irritant to the tyrants, because they refuse to accept the fact that Cuba belongs to all Cubans, not just to their slave-drivers and those slaves who agree to submit to the lash. .

So, even though this was a brief encounter, it delivers a potent message.

It’s definitely an improvement over the prior pope’s refusal to meet them while he was in Cuba.


Cuba: Racism in the revolución

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Mary O’Grady interviewed Berta Soler,

Havana in Black and White
Dissident Berta Soler takes a big risk by telling the truth about racism and repression in Cuba.

Now Ms. Soler is taking advantage of the dictatorship’s new travel policy—that for the first time in a half-century allows Cubans to take trips abroad—to ask the international community for “moral and spiritual support” for the Cuban people in their struggle against the dictatorship.

She wants the world to know of Castro’s racism. Blacks, she says, are grossly underrepresented in the universities and overrepresented in prisons. “The beggars in Cuba are black, not white. The marginalized are blacks, not whites.” She adds: “They tell me ‘Negra, what are you doing? You have a lot to thank the revolution for!'”

Repression is on the rise, and in the absence of international condemnation the regime feels free to administer publicly the beatings the Ladies in White endure in order to show who’s boss. The regime used to send women only to attack the Ladies but now they send men as well. They punch the Ladies with the clear intent to hurt them. They sometimes break bones.

Ms. Soler says that these attackers “never have been neighbors” spontaneously defending the glorious revolution. They are professionals working for the Interior Ministry or civilians who obey the regime in order to keep their jobs or their place in university classrooms. Ms. Soler says that for the past two years many of “the same faces” have consistently shown up to attack the group. The woman who bit Laura Pollan is well known by the Ladies because she is a regular on the goon squad and works for the ministry.

It is chilling to think what might happen to the politically incorrect Ms. Soler when she returns to Cuba, which is what makes her trip to Rome this week so crucial.

Lady in White Belkis Cantillo was beaten, arrested, and taken away the week after returning to Cuba.

She has asked to see Pope Francis. If he agrees, the visit might protect her. Without it, and in the absence of other influential international voices coming to her defense, her fate is less certain.

I’m not counting on the Pope.

Too bad Beyonce and Jay-Z couldn’t drop by, though.

Cuba’s message to dissidents: You had your trip, now we’re coming after you

Monday, April 29th, 2013


Belkis Cantillo, second from the left.

Cuba’s Communist regime has telegraphed a message to dissidents Orlando Luis Pardo ‏@OLPL, Yoani Sánchez @yoanisanchez, Rosa María Payá @RosaMariaPaya, and any others who were allowed to travel outside the country:
One week after returning to Cuba, Lady in White is missing after being beaten and arrested by Castro State Security

Yesterday, the Castro regime carried out its usual Sunday of violent repression against members of Cuba’s peaceful human rights group the Ladies in White when they joined together for Sunday church services as they do every Sunday. As the women stepped out of the church after Sunday mass in the town of Palma Soriano, they were met by Castro State Security agents who began to viciously punch them and beat them with umbrellas before placing them under arrest.

Among the Ladies in White victimized by the violence of the Castro dictatorship was Belkis Cantillo, a Lady in White who just a week ago was in Brussels to take part in the long overdue acceptance of the Sakharov Prize the group had won in 2005. Ms. Cantillo was one of the women who was beaten and arrested by the Castro political police before being arrested and taken away. As of this morning, her physical condition and whereabouts are unknown.

In record time, From Brussels to a Cuban Prison in just one week.

In Italy, Yoani Sánchez was “greeted” by this,

“Cuba May Be the Most Feminist Country in Latin America”

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

No worse fool than a Communist tool:
Cuba May Be the Most Feminist Country in Latin America, says Luisita Lopez Torregrosa,

In sheer numbers and percentages, Cuban women’s advance is notable. Cuba has a high number of female professional and technical workers (60 percent of the total work force in those areas) and in Parliament (43 percent), as well as high levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education enrollment, according to the Gender Gap report.

Indeed, Cuba is a friggin’ feminist paradise; look at how well the totalitarian Communist regime treats its women:

Newsbusters points out,

Wheee! Such good news for the most prominent of the Cuban women, blogger Yoani Sanchez. Oops! Not such good news as Voice of America notes:
Yoani Sanchez is a Cuban blogger who is not permitted to leave the country. She has attracted an international following for her blog, Generación Y, which gives readers unprecedented insight into the harsh realities of life in Cuba. Her work has won numerous awards, including Columbia University’s Maria Cabot prize for journalism, and the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2011. But Cuba’s Communist government has refused to allow her to leave the country to accept these honors. Requests by Ms. Sanchez to travel have been denied 19 times.

But those are relatively recent instances of Cuba’s “feminist” support. Humberto Fontova knows his Cuban history since he lived it,

The longest-suffering female political prisoners in modern history suffered their tortures in Castro’s Cuba. Many died by firing-squad and prison beatings.

Their prison conditions were described by former political prisoner Maritza Lugo. “The punishment cells measure 3 feet wide by 6 feet long. The toilet consists of an 8 inch hole in the ground through which cockroaches and rats enter, especially in cool temperatures the rat come inside to seek the warmth of our bodies and we were often bitten. The suicide rate among women prisoners was very high.”

In fact, Castroism TRIPLED Cuban women’s pre-revolution suicide rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal on earth. This according to a 1998 study by scholar Maida Donate-Armada that uses some of the Cuban regime’s own figures.

Some suffered months in “Tapiadas” (underground cells in total darkness) Some were jailed a few miles from La Cabana. With the right wind direction, the firing squad volley’s would reach them. “HA-HA! Oiste?… Ce la cepillaron a tu marido! ( Hijo! Padre! Abuelo! Tio!)” (Heard that?! We just shot your husband, son, dad, grandad, uncle!) the guards would gather and cackle at the rat-bitten women, surrounded by cockroaches and caked in filth and menstrual fluid from lack of water in their torture chambers

Obviously Luisita doesn’t believe in the rights of all Cuban women, only in the rights of the Cuban women who toe the Communist Party line.

Additionally, millions of Cuban women are living in compulsory poverty, since the monthly salary is the equivalent of $20/month, which has pushed many young women into prostitution.

Is that feminist enough for you, Luisita?


Laura Pollan’s mysterious death

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Mary O’Grady looks into Laura Pollán’s death,
A Dissident’s Mysterious Death in Havana
Days after a beating by a mob, Laura Pollán fell ill and soon died. She was cremated two hours later.

For more than eight years, the Castro regime tried its level best to silence Ladies in White leader Laura Pollán. Ten days ago Pollán did fall silent. She passed away, after a brief illness, in a Havana hospital.

Hospital officials initially said that she died of cardiac and respiratory arrest. But according to Berta Soler, the spokesperson for the Ladies in White in Havana, the death certificate says that Pollán succumbed to diabetes mellitus type II, bronchial pneumonia and a syncytial virus.

Since there was no independent medical care available to her and there was no autopsy, we are unlikely ever to find out what killed Pollán. We do know that although she was a diabetic with high blood pressure, both were under control and she did not need regular insulin shots. Indeed, she had been healthy only weeks before her death, according to friends and family. We also know that the longer she remained under state care, the sicker she got.

Here’s how it happened,

On Sept. 24, Pollán was attacked by a mob as she tried to leave her house to attend Mass. Her right arm was reportedly twisted, scratched and bitten. This is notable because for more than a year, the Ladies had alleged that when Castro’s enforcement squads came after them, the regime’s goons pricked their skin with needles. Those same women claimed that they subsequently felt dizzy, nauseous and feverish. Independent journalist Carlos Ríos Otero reported this for Hablemos Press before Pollán was hospitalized.

According to interviews with Pollán’s daughter and husband and with Ms. Soler, conducted by the Miami-based nongovernmental organization Directorio, eight days after the Sept. 24 assault Pollán came down with chills and began vomiting. Wracked with pain in her joints the next day, she was taken to the Calixto García hospital. After a battery of tests she was told everything was normal and released. On Oct. 4, she had a fever and shortness of breath. A prescribed antibiotic did not help. On Oct. 7 she was admitted to the hospital, later transferred to intensive care and the next day put on a respirator.

Her family was denied visitation rights until Oct. 10, when only her daughter was allowed to see her. State security agents surrounded her bed and monitored the doctors. On Oct. 12 doctors reported that she had a syncytial respiratory virus, which is otherwise known as a cold. She was obviously much sicker.

On Oct. 14 she died. When the family was allowed to see the body, state security agents were again on hand, as they were at the one-hour wake permitted at midnight. In record time—only two hours later—Pollán was returned to ashes. Who could blame the resistance for its suspicions?

Particularly since you hear about Castro official to political prisoner: ‘We killed Laura, we can do the same thing to you…’ while Another Lady in White falls ill after mysterious injection

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Lady in White Laura Pollan died

Friday, October 14th, 2011

It is with great sadness that I must report that Laura Pollan, a heroic woman of great courage, died in Cuba today of heart failure while hospitalized

a week after she was admitted to a Havana hospital suffering from a respiratory infection and complications of her diabetes. While hospitalized, she also was diagnosed as suffering from dengue fever, a too common illness on the island.

Marc Masferrer renders homage,

For eight years, Pollan was kept apart from her husband Hector Maseda, one of the Group of 75 dissidents arrested and imprisoned during the “black spring” of 2003.

For eight years, Pollan and other Damas De Blanco — made up of the wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and other family members of the Group of 75 — marched peacefully through the streets of Havana, bearing witness on behalf of their loved ones and against their captors. They braved the worse the dictatorship could throw against , up to and including outright assaults and arrests, but they persisted, motivated by their love for their imprisoned men and as time passed, by the support of many of their fellow Cubans and of admirers overseas inspired by their example.

The Damas, with Pollan at the forefront, were among the brave Cubans who after the murder of prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo eventually convinced the regime last year that the continued imprisonment of the Group of 75 was no longer tenable. The Spanish government and the Catholic Church claimed the credit for the eventual release of those prisoners still in jail, but it was the Damas and other Cubans — like Zapata and Guillermo Farinas — with the courage to take on the Castros, who made it happen.

Even after Maseda and others were released, Pollan remained a leader, expanding the Damas’ efforts to demand the release of other political prisoners and to other parts of Cuba

Recently she was violently attacked by the Communist regime’s thugs, yet she never gave up the daily struggle for freedom.

Here she is, in her own words,

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Andy Garcia and the Ladies in White

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Actor Andy Garcia headed the demonstration in support of Cuba’s Damas de blanco, the Ladies in White, in Los Angeles. As you may recall, the Ladies in White were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 2005.

Roger L. Simon attended, and wrote about it, Forever Fighting Fidel: In Praise of Andy Garcia.Pajamas Media also filmed a report, which you can watch here. Roger promises,

the reason we produced this video is,in part, to start the ball rolling in correcting the record on Che. More to come.

Please watch the video in its entirety, as it shows the names of the political prisoners and the length of their prison sentences.

Ros-Lehtinen speaks in support of Cuba’s “Ladies in White”

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Here is the text of the speech,

Madam Speaker, last week the Cuban tyranny sunk to an all new low as the communist thugs brutally attacked a procession of mothers, daughters, and wives of Cuban political prisoners collectively known as the “Ladies in White.”

Their crime? Walking to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the dictatorship’s March 2003 crackdown against human rights and pro-democracy activists—a grim event known as the Black Spring.

Many of those imprisoned at that time continue to languish in squalid jail cells and endure unspeakable suffering at the hands of their oppressors.

The procession of the “Ladies in White” was led by Reyna Luisa Tamayo, whose son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died only a few weeks ago at the hands of the Castro regime.

Carrying flowers and wearing their white clothing as symbols of peace, they were suddenly and viciously confronted, beaten, and some, temporarily detained, by agents of the dictatorial regime.

Reyna described the confrontations, explaining: “They dragged me, I am all bruised. They beat me…They cannot be forgiven.”

Further reports indicate that nearly a third of the Ladies in White marching that day had to seek hospital treatment for the attacks.

The cowardice of the regime’s agents could not be more obvious in the wake of this attack.

Confronting the nonviolent actions of these women in such a vicious and hateful manner makes it clear: The dictatorship fears these women because the regime officials fear the truth.

The repression by the regime knows no boundaries.

Now, they are even attempting to deny the people of Cuba the right to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

For anyone who had doubt, these attacks make it clear – the regime has no conscience.

There is no limit to its abuse and indecency.

I was pleased however to see the European and Chilean Parliaments deliver strong statements of condemnation and reproach following the regime’s actions last week.

However, responsible nations must do more.

The newly inaugurated President of Chile understands this moral obligation.

He recognizes the suffering of the Cuban people must come to an end and free nations must lead the charge.

President Sebastian Piñera said: “The government of Chile will do everything it can…so that in Cuba there is a process of peaceful recovery of democracy and a full restoration of respect for human rights and individual freedoms.”

But where is the rest of the world?

Why are regional leaders silent on the Cuban regime’s gross human rights violations and the abuses of power?

Where is the Organization of American States?

On the wrong side of history.

It was almost a year ago when the OAS voted to reincorporate the Cuban tyranny into the Inter-American system.

The U.S. made a mistake then by shepherding such an effort.

But it’s not too late to do the right thing by the Cuban people and take up the cause of freedom for the island nation.

The U.S. Ambassador to the OAS should immediately call for consideration of a resolution condemning the Cuban tyranny’s attack on the Ladies in White and demanding that all political prisoners be immediately released.

The U.S. should call on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to immediately convene a meeting to hear testimony on the systematic violations of human rights and universal freedoms by the Cuban dictatorship.

The U.S. must request an investigation by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in the Western Hemisphere on the assaults against independent journalists.

It is time for the world to admit the full brutality of the butchers in Havana and provide the people of Cuba the solidarity and support they deserve.

It is time for the people of Cuba to have the rights and liberties they deserve and for which they fight everyday.

Let this Congress pave the way.

I ask my colleagues to support H.Con.Res. 252—a resolution I introduced to recognize the life of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and calling for a renewed focus on the promotion of human rights and democracy in my native homeland of Cuba.

Thank you, Madame Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this important cause.