By Lic. Edward V. Byrne View Edward V. Byrne's profile
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The Ladies in White ("Las Damas de Blanco")
of Havana is a loose knit organization started almost a decade ago by a
group of women protesting the detention of 75 men arrested during a
wave of political repression in 2003. They have frequently clashed with
Cuban authorities over the years, and at times have been roughed up on
the streets by Castro regime agents and sympathizers. The group was
originally composed of immediate family members of the 75 detainees, but
eventually morphed into a much broader organization, espousing the
political and civil rights of every Cuban, and demanding the release of
all political prisoners. Because of their nonviolent resistance, they
have proved themselves a formidable adversary -- and a major headache --
for the Old Men of Havana.
Yesterday (Oct. 14) one of their founders, 63 year old Laura Pollan, died after a week long battle with Dengue fever.
Dengue is a tropical, mosquito born illness which afflicts much of the
world, including the Yucatán, where there have been a number of deaths
in recent weeks. Most people experience milder forms of Dengue, and
statistically very few actually succumb to the illnes. Pollan died in a
Havana hospital, where she was admitted after developing severe
Pollan's husband, one of the original 75, was just released in February.