Ladies in White

The Ladies in White lead a demonstration every Sunday after Mass at Santa Rita Church in Havana. They wear white because it is the symbol of peace.

Fidel Castro is dead. But the Ladies in White live on.

Yoani Sanchez, one of the strongest voices for freedom in Cuba, tells about the origins of the Ladies in White movement in a 2011 opinion piece in The Washington Post:

“Eight years ago, Laura Pollan was a schoolteacher living with her husband, Hector Maseda, the leader of the outlawed Cuban Liberal Party. Despite the vicissitudes of living in a country where association is penalized, the family tried to live a normal life in their small house on Neptune Street in Havana.

“But early one morning, a pounding on the door irrevocably changed their lives. After an exhaustive search and a summary trial, Maseda was imprisoned and sentenced to 20 years in jail, accused of acting against national security. His crime: imagining a different Cuba, politically opposing the authorities and putting those opinions in writing.

“Seventy-five opposition figures were arrested and condemned during that sad March of 2003, a time that will remain forever known in Cuba’s history as the Black Spring. The Cuban government expected this blow to the opposition to persuade other restless citizens to abandon the ranks of the protesters. Officials also believed that the wives, mothers and daughters of the political prisoners would remain silent, so as not to cause more problems for their loved ones. They never anticipated that these women would band together to publicly denounce the arrests and imprisonments. But every political calculation made from the arrogance of power turned out badly.

“Thus was born the Ladies in White, a group of women who, through peaceful struggle, demanded and achieved the release of all the prisoners of conscience.”

Check out Sanchez’s full story below in The Washington Post.

The legacy of Laura Pollan, Cuba’s Lady in White

Also, I recommend Sanchez’s book, Havana Real, an excellent account about life in Cuba today.

By Doug Peterson


History by the Slice