Cuba Politics

Ladies in White receive Human Rights Defender Award

Posted April 24, 2011 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

Fox News

The Ladies in White, a group of mothers and wives of Cuban dissidents who’ve been jailed, received an award from the Obama administration on April 14, 2011 for their struggle for human rights in Cuba.

Senior State Department official William Burns says the U.S. stands with the group in calling for the release of all political prisoners held by the Communist government.

During the awards ceremony in Washington D.C., Burns said the group Ladies in White “distinguishes itself not only by the depth of its commitment to the release of political prisoners, but by the full measure of its bravery in defense of human rights in Cuba.”

Burns said the women are a poignant reminder of the “day-to-day repression that Cubans face.”

The prize, called the Human Rights Defender Award, is given for “exceptional valor and leadership in advocating the protection of human rights and democracy in the face of government repression.”

The Ladies in White, or “Damas de Blanco” in Spanish, were founded in 2003, when the Cuban government rounded up and jailed 75 dissidents. The women marched every week, demanding the release of their male relatives as well as all others who were jailed because of their opposition to the Communist regime.

“The Damas helped create the conditions that led to the release of the political prisoners arrested during the ‘Black Spring’ crackdown of 2003,” Burns said. “With much of the battle for human rights in Cuba forced underground, the Damas de Blanco kept marching. “

One of the founders of Ladies in White, Dolia Leal, who arrived in New Jersey from Cuba last year, said that she was moved by the recognition of the group by the Obama administration.

“It makes me so happy,” Leal said. “The Ladies in White have struggled so much for justice, for human rights, for an end to the imprisonment of people who express criticism of the oppression in Cuba.”

“We marched and denounced the human rights abuses even as government security forces beat us, dragged us and threatened us.”

Cuba’s government regularly denounces the Ladies in White. It considers them, and other dissidents, common criminals who take money from Washington to destabilize the island and bring down its social revolution.

Leal said that each of the many international human rights prizes the women have received provides an important boost to their morale.

“The Cuban government tries to break their spirit, to demoralize them,” Leal said. “But every time there is recognition, the wives and mothers, who have not let a week go by since 2003 without marching, feel they’re not alone, feel that the world hears them and that the world’s eyes are opened to the human rights violations in Cuba.”

Among the awards bestowed upon the women was the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in 2005.

Cuban exiles around the world have mounted campaigns for the Ladies in White to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Member Comments

On April 25, 2011, bernie wrote:

Awards from obama or the eu are really awards from
hypocrites and should not be taken seriously??
One, only has to open their eyes and see what obama
& the eu are doing in Afghanistan,Iraq and Libya???

Perhaps, these women in white have never heard about
the prison the USA has in Guantanamo????

On April 25, 2011, publisher wrote:

Every time you write, you make the case against Socialism. You really are annoying. You can’t give the Ladies in White any credit?

I guess not because they don’t believe in your God, Fidel Castro.

I honestly don’t know how you make it through the day.

On May 02, 2011, miguel wrote:

I agree with bernie that human rights awards given by the government of a great power who violates Human Rights Conventions at home and abroad is of scarce value.

Especially if the receivers’ merit to some degree is to follow instructions by representatives of the donor government.

The immediate motive of the Obama administration is no doubt domestic policy interests. And it seems a bit ridiculous to proclaim that “the U.S. stands with the group in calling for the release of all political prisoners held by the Communist government”, when the prisoners in question already have been released.