Las Damas de Blanco now w Live Video link

UPDATED with LIVE video at the Miami Herald.  Habla espanol?

UPDATE 2: 6:45 PM ET… Gloria speaking now, both Spanish and English. Nice speech re freedom….

“we are here to honor the ladies in white who have walked peacefuly for the last 7 years to defend freedom…  white is the color of hope, of peace,…. Freedom belongs to every human being…. gracias…”

Her English not exactly same as the Spanish but my Spanish isnt that good…lol.

MSNBC just had a brief report on this News.

Gloria Estefan Leads Damas March Today

A march in support of Cuban peace activist group Las Damas de Blanco happens tonight at 6 p.m. in Calle Ocho, Miami Florida.

At 6 p.m., Gloria Estefan will lead a group of peaceful protestors in a march to support Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group of wives and mothers whose relatives are in prison for opposing Fidel Castro’s government.

After the march, which will begin at Beacom Blvd. between 7th and 8th Streets and go from 22nd to 27th Avenues, Estefan is expected to thank participants, read a poem and sing the Cuban and U.S. national anthems.

Anyone participating is aked to where white and walk in silence. Shirts, which will be replicas of the ones used in Cuba by the Damas de Blanco, will also be made.

Who…?

Man do I hate TV news sometimes. Here’s what I found online.

WSJ: Fearsome Ladies, The women who scare Castro March 23, 2010.

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the “Black Spring,” when Cuban state security rounded up scores of journalists, political dissidents, writers, poets and independent librarians that the regime decided were a threat to the revolution. Seventy-five of them received harsh prison sentences in summary trials.

Many of the wives, sisters and mothers of the prisoners have petitioned the government for improved prison conditions and their release. Dressed in white, they have highlighted their calls by walking each Sunday after Catholic Mass through the streets of Havana. In 2005, they were awarded the European parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The government has alternately ignored or harassed them, but the ladies march on.

Wednesday’s procession  one of seven days of protest to mark the anniversary of the mass arrests,  included the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the 42-year-old human rights activist who died in a Cuban prison last month. Reina Tamayo is becoming something of a national icon, and she described her Wednesday experience this way to the Cuban Democratic Directorate in Miami:

“They dragged me, I am all bruised. They beat me. They called me a [racial slur; she is black]. They will know this mother’s pain. When I get to my home town of Banes in my home province of Holguin they will have to bury me with my son. But my people will remember me. They will remember me. . . . The Castro brothers cannot be forgiven. They cannot be forgiven.” No wonder Fidel is afraid.

And the doc at Amnesty International:

Death of Cuban prisoner of conscience on hunger strike must herald change, 24 February 2010:

Amnesty International has urged Cuban President Raúl Castro to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience after a political activist died following a hunger strike.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was reported to have been on hunger strike in protest at prison conditions for several weeks before his death in Havana on Monday.

“The tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo is a terrible illustration of the despair facing prisoners of conscience who see no hope of being freed from their unfair and prolonged incarceration,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Caribbean researcher.

A full investigation must be carried out to establish whether ill-treatment may have played a part in his death”, added Amnesty International.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was arrested in March 2003 and in May 2004 he was sentenced to three years in prison for “disrespect”, “public disorder” and “resistance”.

He was subsequently tried several times on further charges of “disobedience” and “disorder in a penal establishment”, the last time in May 2009, and was serving a total sentence of 36 years at the time of his death.

“Faced with a prolonged prison sentence, the fact that Orlando Zapata Tamayo felt he had no other avenue available to him but to starve himself in protest is a terrible indictment of the continuing repression of political dissidents in Cuba.”The death of Orlando Zapata also underlines the urgent need for Cuba to invite international human rights experts to visit the country to verify respect for human rights, in particular obligations in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Background informationOrlando Zapata Tamayo was one of 55 prisoners of conscience who have been adopted by Amnesty International in Cuba.

The majority were among the 75 people arrested as part of the massive March 2003 crackdown by authorities against political activists. With no independent judiciary in Cuba, trials are often summary and fall grossly short of international fair trial standards, once sentenced the chances of appeal are virtually nil.

Women in White… will go look for something on that shortly… speedblogging … sorry. Here. Interesting trivia, sub text:

The traditions of Santeria are fiercely preserved and full knowledge of the rites, songs, and language are prerequisites to any deep involvement in the religion. Initiates must follow a strict regimen and are answerable to Olorun and the orishas for their actions. As a person passes through each initiation in the tradition, this knowledge deepens and their abilities and responsibilities grow accordingly. In fact, during the first year of their initiation into the priesthood, the initiate or Iyawó or ‘bride’ of the orisha must dress in white for an entire year. The iyawo must not look into a mirror, touch anyone or allow themselves to be touched, and they may not wear makeup, or go out at night for this year. source

3 comments

  1. what else I can come up with on this, after this brief intermission…

  2. I had not heard of this soul or their efforts….

    • RiaD on March 26, 2010 at 3:42 am

    brilliant post…

    so much information that i had never seen..

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