The Obama administration has honored a group of mothers and wives of Cuban dissidents with an award for defending human rights.
Senior State Department official William Burns says the U.S. stands with the Damas de Blanco _ or "Ladies in White" _ in calling for the release of all political prisoners held by the communist government.
The group is comprised of female relatives of some of the 75 dissidents arrested in a government operation in March 2003. All have since been released. Most went into exile in Spain.
Cuba's government regularly denounces the Damas. It considers them common criminals who take money from Washington to destabilize the island and bring down its social revolution.
But Burns said the women are a poignant reminder of the "day-to-day repression that Cubans face."