Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day in Cuba: State Security imprisons 63 women for honoring Laura Pollan

Ladies in White spokeswoman Berta Soler at the far right in the Cubre Terminal

Tonight, Angel Moya, a former prisoner of conscience and husband of Ladies in White spokeswoman Berta Soler tweeted: "63 Ladies in White arrested in 32 hours by DSE repressive forces, some Ladies in White were arrested several times." Valentine's Day in Cuba takes on its original meaning: the power of love resisting brutality and injustice in the worse of places.

Why did State Security engage in a crackdown against so many nonviolent women?

There are two fundamental reasons. First, they can get away with it. The international media has been mostly silent during this crackdown. They would prefer to report on who is able to obtain a passport and who is being denied one by the dictatorship as they pursue the Castro regime's spin trying to sale cosmetic changes as real reforms. Secondly, the dictatorship fears the power of these women exercising nonviolent resistance and they still fear its founder the martyred Laura Pollán.

February 13, 2013 was the 65th anniversary of Lady in White founder Laura Pollán's birth in Cuba. The Ladies in White are a non-violent human rights movement established in March of 2003 in the midst of a massive crackdown in which their loved ones were unjustly imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights.  The first spokeswoman of the Ladies in White was Laura Pollán whose leadership forged a national movement that was also known and respected internationally. She died on October 14, 2011 following a mysterious illness and medical neglect.

The Ladies in White renamed themselves after Laura Pollán and have carried on defending human rights and calling for the release of all of Cuba's political prisoners. Its thanks to their courageous stand that Angel Moya is not in prison today. He was arrested on March 18, 2003 and condemned shortly afterwards in a summary show trial to 20 years in prison along with 74 others who faced stiff sentences of up to 28 years in prison. Thanks to the Ladies in White, not one of them is in prison today.

Yesterday, the Ladies in White gathered on Neptune Street in Havana, Cuba at what had been Laura Pollán's home when she was still alive to honor her and celebrate her life.

State Security mounted a huge operation detaining, beating and harassing the women trying to attend the gathering.  At the end of the day when members of the Ladies in White sought to leave Havana and return to their home provinces they were rounded up. Among those detained was the new spokeswoman Berta Soler who spent the night with her compatriots in detention and Angel Moya.

She got home three hours ago, and her husband Angel Moya tweeted the news: "Berta is already at home, State Security threatens to open a case against her."

Still trying to get news about the remaining women who were unjustly detained for trying to pay their respects to a nonviolent martyr on her birthday and have spent St. Valentine's Day behind bars.

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