LADIES IN WHITE AND ITALIAN SUPPORTERS MARCH IN HAVANA (scroll down)

Four Years ago today, the Cuban regime arrested 75 independent journalists and other dissident activists in what is now known as the “Black Spring”. Four years later, the situation has not changed: the very few dissidents released are under persistent harassment and threat of returning to jail. One of those released has died of heart attack last January because the regime denied him visa for treatment in the U.S. and he lived under daily harassment, even though the repressors knew he suffered from heart problems. Others risk to end up like him, whether those still in jail (many of which fell ill while in jail and denied medical treatment) and those not. A former political prisoner who was arrested that sad day, and now lives in Sweden, retells that day, his days in jail and how Castro believed he would blow a mortal blow to the dissident movements, but the result has been that today there are many more of them (more than 365, including over 150 independent libraries) and they are more united than ever and are carrying out unprecedented initiatives constisting in peaceful civil desobedience and non-cooperation, that are making the difference among the population – who is growing more supportive of the resistance. The regime has also failed to intimidate the prisoners, who are more determined than ever. Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés: Castro’s Lost Battle (Spanish).

Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés: La Primavera Negra de Cuba: La Batalla Pérdida del Castrismo

Oscar Sánchez Madan: ¡Para las ideas, palacios; no cárceles!

Since 2003, the Ladies in White walk throughout Havana every Sunday to attend mass in Santa Rita Church. People learned to know and love them. They are the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the political prisoners. They suffered numerous ‘repudiation acts’ carried out by the State security agents, but they always responded by holding their gladioluses. Gladioluses representing love, which is the main sentiment the Ladies bring with them. Love toward the human beings, versus the hatred promoted the Castro’s supporters.

A family member of an imprisoned dissident stands in a mock prison next to others during a gathering of the “Ladies in White” in Havana March 17, 2007. The women are relatives of political prisoners who are demanding the release of their family members after Cuba’s dictatorship crackdown on dissidents in 2003.

Brave Italian activists went to Havana from Italy, to show solidarity to the Ladies! Among the Italian activists was the daughter of Aldo Moro, an Italian Christian democrat leader murdered by the Red Brigades in the 1970s. Unsuprisingly, there is total media blackout on this in Italy.The activists with the Ladies

Michael Parmly, the chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, walks past three Italian activists holding a banner that reads in Spanish ‘Freedom and No Violence for Cuba’ in Havana, Sunday, March 18, 2007. Cuba’s ‘Ladies in White’ organized a march to commemorate the crackdown that jailed 75 opponents of the Cuban government four years ago.

Members of Italy’s Radical Party (R), including a national parliament member and a Euro Parliament deputy, join wives and other female relatives of 59 imprisoned Cuban dissidents outside a church in Havana March 18, 2007.Three Italian activists hold a banner that reads in Spanish ‘Freedom and No Violence for Cuba’ during a march organized by Cuba’s ‘Ladies in White’ in Havana, Sunday, March 18, 2007.

Wives and other female relatives of 59 imprisoned Cuban dissidents yell “Liberty” after marching along the main avenue of the upscale Havana district of Miramar March 18, 2007.

A family steps out of a house next to a door decorated with doves in Havana March 17, 2007. The “Ladies in White,” family members of imprisoned dissidents meet at the house with doves on the door, demanding the release of their family members after Cuba’s dictatorship crackdown on dissidents in 2003.

 A former Czech dissident, symbolically dressed as prisoner, stands behind bars in a mock prison cell in support of Cuban political prisoners’ wives, during a peaceful rally at Wenceslas Square in Prague March 16, 2007. The mock prison was built by the organisation People in Need (PIN), which organised a demonstration outside the Cuban embassy on March 15 to call for the release of Cuban political prisoners.

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