Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Defending "Las Damas"

Cuba: Defending "Las Damas"
Posted 19 July 2011 19:16 GMT
Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

Cuban bloggers continue to update their posts about the most recent
attack on Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), in which members of
the group were reportedly "attacked and brutally beaten…by agents of
Castro State Security upon exiting a church sanctuary."

The Coalition of Cuban-American Women has issued a press release
denouncing the attack, which even includes an audio clip [es] of one of
the Ladies, Tania Montoya Vázquez, relating her experience. El Cafe
Cubano has republished the Coalition's statement in a show of solidarity.

Babalu comments on the "recording by opposition leader Tania Montoya
Vazquez, who called in to Hablalo Sin Miedo while a violent attack
against the Ladies in White was taking place yesterday", saying:

You can hear the desperation and fear in her voice. Even if you do
not speak or understand Spanish, the tone of her voice and the screams
in the background give a chilling account of the brutality of the Castro

The incident has caused an outcry from other factions as well; see The
International Federation of Liberal Youth's statement, here:

Belkis Cantillo Ramirez was shot in the arm, while others were
brutally beaten with batons, stones and other objects. In the midst of
the violence, Tania Montoya and Rodaisa Corrioso were arrested by the
authorities. Aside from these two brave women, thirteen members of this
organization, including Belkis Cantillo Ramirez, are receiving medical
care at a local hospital.

The International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) condemns
these attacks in the strongest terms. Las Damas de Blanco is a strictly
peaceful movement. To respond to such non-violent resistance with such
brutal repression colours the Castro regime as tyrannical at best. If
these attacks were not sanctioned by the authorities, then an
investigation must be immediately initiated and given far-reaching

The statement goes on to demand that "Tania Montoya and Rodaisa Corrioso
must be immediately and unconditionally released", while Babalu writes
another post with "more graphic details" (including photos), saying:

A quick review this morning of the websites run by some prominent
'Cuba Experts' finds no mention whatsoever of this brutal and violent
attack on these defenseless yet courageous women. The narrative put
forth by these 'experts' mirrors the narrative put forth by the Castro
regime…they are not about to shine the light of truth on the atrocities…

Uncommon Sense also weighs in, making the point that:

To its credit, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Santiago de
Cuba confirmed the report, and denounced the attack.

This has proven to be an interesting observation, considering Babalu's
take on a USA Today editorial suggesting that:

Post-Castro Cuba will need someone trusted by all segments of
society to help shepherd this nation into a new era, without bloodshed
or upheaval. Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of
Havana, is that man. The son of a sugar mill worker, Ortega is uniquely
equipped to fill any power vacuum.

Babalu strongly disagrees:

In a colossal display of sheer ignorance and contemptuous
arrogance, Pinsky nominates for president one of the most corrupted and
compromised individuals in Cuba today while ignoring venerable leaders
such as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who unlike Ortega, has not compromised
his principles or allowed himself to be used as a political tool by the

El Cafe Cubano supports this view, saying:

This past Sunday in 'Santiago de Cuba, a city in the Eastern
province of Cuba, women pro democracy activists were savagely beaten and
verbally attacked in the streets by Cuban State Security agents after
they attended mass in the Basilica of El Cobre, a Catholic shrine
dedicated to Our Lady of Charity, where they prayed for the freedom of
all Cuban political prisoners and for the freedom of Cuba.'

The Catholic Church silent and looking the other way…

No doubt, the Cuban diaspora will continue to follow developments and
provide cyber support for The Ladies in White."

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