Monday, November 14, 2011

Laura Pollán: One month later

"As long as this government is around there will be prisoners because while they've let some go, they've put others in jail. It is a never-ending story." - Laura Pollán (2011)

Laura Pollán's image projected onto Cuban embassy in Ottawa

Tonight, at 10:30pm in Ottawa, Canada Laura Pollán's smiling image was beamed onto the Cuban embassy by the artist, Geandy Pavón as part of his Nemesis series.

One month ago on Friday, October 14 at 7:50pm Laura Pollán died of heart failure following being hospitalized for one week. Later that same night a special Mass was held for Laura at Our Lady of Charity in Coconut Grove, Florida. In the space of a month there has been an outpouring of sorrow both inside and outside of Cuba and the Ladies in White renamed themselves The Ladies in White "Laura Pollán" to honor her memory. Polish solidarity leader Lech Walesa sent a letter of condolence to her family. The Economist published a remembrance of the Lady in White leader.

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet conducted a medical analysis of the painful, tragic and unnecessary death of Laura Pollán that he published on October 30, 2011. Others also raised questions around the circumstances of the Lady in White leader's death.

Today the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) reminded the world of the legacy of Laura Pollán and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her illness and death. They stated that "she now had a place in history as a symbol of nonviolent struggle against dictatorship." HRF remembered that the last moments of Laura's life "were overshadowed because over three days, visiting rights were denied to her family and because her bed was always surrounded by Cuban security agents."

HRF also noted the fact that Pollán was cremated "just two hours after her death, which the official report said was due to cardiac arrest."

The Human Rights Foundation said "the story of Laura
Pollán, is not only the history of an effective nonviolent activist for democracy and human rights", but above all "is an extraordinary love story." This is referring to how the Ladies in White movement came into existence. On March 18, 2003 the dictatorship in Cuba began a massive crackdown on independent journalists, human rights defenders, and pro-democracy activists sentencing them up to 28 years in prison. Hector Maseda, an independent journalist was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Laura Pollán who had been a literature teacher and apolitical "dressed in white and began to organize marches on Sunday accompanied by other women whose husbands and loved ones were also prisoners of conscience of the Cuban regime. "

The Ladies in White movement obligated the Cuban government to release all of the group of the 75 prisoners of conscience imprisoned in the Black Cuban Spring of 2003. Laura and the other women continued marching each Sunday despite efforts to intimidate them through constant harassment, threats and violence by the regime.

According to
HRF, in the last phone interview they had with
Pollán weeks before her death, the activist told them how she was arrested on Sunday August 28 with more than a dozen Ladies in White, and that all were beaten by Cuban political police . She told them that since July 17 of this year government repression had intensified in Cuba observing that "They do not want the Ladies in White to continue grow."

Laura Pollán Vive!

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