Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Women Who Brave Mobs

Women Who Brave Mobs
Cuba's Ladies in White are getting leaned on by Havana's toughs.

For more than a month, Cuba's Ladies in White have been getting leaned
on. Castro's goons have taken to surrounding them after the women go to
Mass in Havana and march for their loved ones in prison. Now Dania
Virgen García is in prison.

She didn't have a loved-one in a Cuban jail when she began processing
through the streets of Havana with the Ladies in White on Sundays. But
she decided to join them in solidarity against the unjust imprisonment
of husbands, fathers and brothers rounded up during the Black Spring of
March 2003 and handed harsh sentences for speaking their consciences.
She was one of a growing number of women there who call themselves
"Ladies in Support."

On April 22 state security arrested the young blogger, and less than 48
hours later she received a prison sentence of one year and eight months.
She has been sent to the country's largest maximum security prison for
women, known commonly by Cubans as "the black veil." It's easy to guess
why they call it that.

The regime's assaults on independent thinkers date back 51 years. But
Ms. García's arrest is not without significance. It is the clearest sign
to date of the regime's desperation in the face of popular discontent.

Ms. García is what Cubans call an independent journalist. Carmen
Ferreiro, director of information and press for Human Rights Cuba based
in Miami, says she met Ms. García online "toward the end of 2009" and
helped her get her blog up and running. The two women exchanged emails.
"This is how in a short time I came to know that Dania was very devoted
to her Catholic faith, that she spoke affectionately about her family,
that she enjoyed photography and struggled despite limited resources for
human rights in Cuba."

Ms. Ferreiro reports that Ms. García knew she was under surveillance and
explained the threat in an email: "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."

Though without Dania now, the Ladies in White surely will be walking in
the face of an increasingly dangerous mob again this Sunday. The world
might want to take notice.

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