Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cuba's 'Ladies' to pick up EU prize 8 years later

Posted on Wednesday, 04.17.13

Cuba's 'Ladies' to pick up EU prize 8 years later
The Associated Press

HAVANA -- Members of Cuba's Ladies in White opposition group will
finally pick up Europe's top human rights prize from 2005 in person next
week in Belgium, the European Union and the daughter of the group's
former leader said Wednesday.

In a statement, the EU said several representatives of the Ladies will
be awarded the Sakharov Prize in an April 23 ceremony at the European
Parliament in Brussels.

"It will be an honor to go in representation of the Ladies in White and
above all my mother, Laura Pollan," said Laura Labrada. Pollan, the
group's co-founder and most prominent leader at the time, died in
October 2011.

Labrada said she and Belkis Cantillo would leave Sunday and later meet
up with Berta Soler, another co-founder of the Ladies, and Blankita Reyes.

The Ladies in White formed in 2003 to demand freedom for their loved
ones, 75 government opponents who had been jailed that spring in a
crackdown on dissidents.

They became known for their Sunday post-Mass marches down a leafy Havana
boulevard, dressed all in white. All 75 prisoners have since been released.

The EU honored the Ladies eight years ago for their activism, but Havana
denied them permission to travel to receive the Sakharov in the flesh.

This January, President Raul Castro's government ended the much-detested
exit visa that had been required of all Cuban travelers for decades.

Since then a number of dissidents have traveled overseas including noted
blogger Yoani Sanchez, who has been on a tour of at least a dozen
nations since February.

However other government opponents with pending legal cases against them
have been denied passports.

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