Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White)
30 de octubre de 2006
The women of the prisoners of the Black Cuban Spring
Erika Lüters Gamboa

Ladies in White appeared during the cellebration of the Mothers Day in 2003, when a group of women had to assume the consequences of the arbitrary arrest of their relatives. The group was formed in a spontaneous way; today it has the participation of women coming from all over the country who profess different religious creeds and have diverse political standings, but share a common cause: to achieve the inmediate freedom of their relatives, unfairly imprisoned during the period of most repression that Cuba knew in recent years.

Although they don't talk about religion or politics, or maybe because of that, Ladies in White continued with their meetings and gained a growing acknowledgement in Cuba and abroad. The group was one of the three distinguished by the prestigious Andrei Sajarov Award for Liberty of Conscience that the European Parliament gives every year to recognize those who fight in the protection of human rights, the promotion of democracy, international cooperation and the defense of rule of law. The Cuban government, however, in a sound reaction to their repressive policy, did not allow any representative of the group to travel to France to receive the award on December 2005.

Democratic governments of Latin America should firmly pronounce themselves reporting the political repression in Cuba and stop backing up the participation of that government in international organizations, like the discredited Human Rigths Commission of the UN. Their diplomatic offices in Havanna should frequently meet with Cuban dissidents and human rights pomoters. We can not cross our arms before a reality like this. No one should fall in illusions regarding the character of the Cuban government. We cannot romanticise in any aspect about this cruel system, or justify Fidel Castro's abuses in any way.

José Miguel Vivanco
Regional Director of Americas
Human Rights Watch