Over the past year Cuban women have demonstrated their courage and persistence in confronting a brutal totalitarian regime both inside and outside of Cuba.
The Ladies in White, founded in March of 2003 after fathers, brothers, husbands and sons were unjustly imprisoned, they risked their lives and freedom marching through the streets of Cuba and petitioning the dictatorship to release their loved ones.
They were brutalized, beaten, detained and some even had bones broken from the beatings by agents and mobs organized and sent by the dictatorship.
Nevertheless they continued on in their struggle for justice. Some of them went on hunger strike to demand their loved one's freedom and in the end obtained their goal. Despite many having achieved their objective they maintain in solidarity with those whose loved ones are still imprisoned and carry on against great odds.
Outrage over this violence against these Cuban women led Gloria Estefan to organize a march in Miami, FL were over 100,000 dressed in white in Solidarity with the Ladies in White. In her call to action she cited the words of Cuba's independence hero stating:
In the words of our illustrious poet, Jose Marti, "The campaigns of a people are only weak when in them is not enlisted the heart of a woman; but when a woman is shaken and helps, when a woman, timid and quiet in her nature, cheers and applauds, when a woman cultured and virtuous anoints a deed with the honey of her love, the deed is invincible".In the end the dictatorship pledged to release all the prisoners by November 6, 2010 then failed to do so when some of them refused to go into exile in exchange for their freedom.
Amnesty International had to request that the dictatorship to end the harassment of Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger who wanted to visit her son's grave. Her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, had died in the Castro regime's custody on February 23, 2010 and was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and human rights defender. Despite Amnesty's public request the beatings and harassment continued.
These women's courage speaks for itself:
"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." -Dania Virgen García (blogger, independent journalist sentenced to 20 months in prison)
"They can either kills us, put us in jail or release them. We will never stop marching no matter what happens." - Laura Pollán, Lady in White, Cuba March 2010