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Statement from Cuba's Ladies in White

Posted on Tue, Aug. 08, 2006

Statement from Cuba’s Ladies in White

A translation of an excerpt from a statement issued Monday by Miriam
Leiva, founding member of the Ladies in White group:

On Aug. 7, as on every Sunday since March 30, 2003, the Ladies in White
attended church at the Santa Rita de Casia Church and walked down the
middle of Fifth Avenue in Miramar, Havana. But this wasn’t an ordinary
Sunday. It was the Sunday after the provisional delegation of power by
Fidel Castro to Raúl Castro and five other Cuban leaders.

This movement of the Cuban civil society does not have a political
nature, ideological preferences or confessional exclusions. We do not
challenge and we’re not a party. We have neither a spokeswoman nor a
hierarchy. We are the voices of the 75 innocent prisoners of conscience,
imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003, and our families. We have
suffered much, but we harbor neither hatred nor resentment.

If anything has become evident this week, it’s that the government of
Cuba must open itself to its people and simultaneously to the world. The
inner fear can be smelled, can be felt on the empty streets of Havana
and in cities and towns all over the country. . . . The quiet and
timorous commentaries do not match the noisy and fun-loving idiosyncrasy
[of the Cuban people].

But the causes of this unreal calm make no one feel comfortable in the
stillness and near absence of the habitual sounds. It’s as if everyone
had come to a halt, astonished. We have felt the surveillance, and
sensed the repressive elements preparing to act at the slightest signal.

Cuba will never again be the same. The people deserve the right to
express themselves without fear, to know what’s happening, to contribute
their opinions, to participate in the decisions, to really be the
masters of their fate, to help our homeland to recover economically and
join the international commonwealth.

One of the first steps has to be the release of the 75 prisoners of
conscience, those people sentenced unjustly in March 2003 to terms of up
to 28 years; the 60 who are in prison and the 12 who have been released
on parole for reasons of health and remain in the country; as well as
the release of the other peaceful prisoners of conscience and political
prisoners, including those who have been awaiting charges and trials
since July 2005.

We Ladies in White aspire to live in liberty and democracy. We miss the
respect for our rights and the peace among us all. These have been very
important issues for Cubans for centuries now, an importance that was
evidenced in the outstanding role played by Cuba in the drafting of the
United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948,
and many other examples.

We shall not give up in our efforts, and even though we are unprotected
women, we are filled with immense tenacity and passion for our
relatives, our people and our homeland. Not always will there be many of
us; everyone knows the many difficulties that exist in our country and
the repression against us all. But every Sunday, and whenever it’s
opportune, we shall be together and will surely redouble our efforts to
participate.

This seventh day of August, we walked with our traditional gladiolus in
one hand and white lilies in the other, as signs of peace and love. We
shall continue to struggle, because we are convinced that nothing is
impossible if reason is on our side.

Havana, Aug. 8, 2006

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/15220045.htm

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