Cambio: Marking Human Rights Day in Cuba

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 10, 2007 3:20 PM

The Women in White protest in Cuba Sunday.

It can be a dangerous business.

Cuban authorities are holding ten women from Catalua for supporting a demonstration in favour of human rights yesterday morning, and it is expected that they will be deported within the next few hours.

Among the women taking part in a demonstration organised by the Damas de Blanco, a dissident movement that campaigns for the rights of Cuban political prisoners, was Francina Vila, who represents the CiU on Barcelona town council.

Around two dozen other women from Sweden, Peru and Bosnia also took part in the demonstration that was organised to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
They're not the first to be arrested this week who were planning to march today to mark Human Rights Day in defiance of the bearded dictator.

The Women in White
-- female relatives of Cuban political prisoners-- were also out in support of their loved ones and jeered by government supporters.

"We are here to demand our prisoners' freedom and so the government understands it's punishing innocent people," said Miriam Leiva, wife of recently freed dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe.

The women, dressed in white and holding flowers, marched some 20 blocks through the busy streets of Havana's Miramar district to parliament headquarters, where a crowd of government supporters gathered and returned their chants of "freedom" with shouts of "mercenaries" and "worms."

Remember these people when some college student congratulates himself or Sean Penn for "speaking truth to power."

Stay tuned to Val Prieto's Babalu blog today for more news on the human rights crisis that doesn't often appear on hipster t-shirts or get talked about in celebrity award acceptances, but goes on just 90 miles south of Florida. And, if you have your own blog, remember that media coverage-- shining sunlight on Cuba-- is one of the best protections these freedom fighters can have when going up against their own government.

More on International Human Rights Day later, but I wanted to get these folks on the blog.