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Laura Pollan, the founder of the Cuban dissident group Ladies in White, died yesterday of a heart attack brought on by a pulmonary illness. She was 63.
In 2003, Fidel Castro imprisoned 75 Cuban dissidents, Pollan’s husband amongst them. Shortly after their imprisonment, Pollan led a group of other women (mostly wives of other imprisoned dissidents) on weekly vigils. Their protests were silent, they wore white and carried a single white rose.
Pollan and the Ladies in White have been severely harassed by the Cuban government. It was only last month that a group of pro-Castro supporters, at the behest of pro-Castro blogs, gathered outside Pollan’s home to prevent her and the other Ladies in White from carrying out a vigil. These Castro supporters engaged in an “act of repudiation” by hanging Cuban and revolutionary flags from Pollan’s home while shouting “Get out!!!” and “Down with the worms!” A similar incident occurred outside her home this past March (on the eighth anniversary of the crackdown) when yet another crowd of pro-Castro supporters gathered outside her home preventing Pollan and the other Ladies in White from conducting a demonstration.
Although the remaining dissidents were released late last year by Raul Castro in a deal brokered with the Catholic Church in Cuba following the death of fellow dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo following a hunger strike, the Ladies in White continue to protest the detention of other dissidents who remain incarcerated as well as the political repression which prevails in Cuba.
We must remember that protesting in Cuba is not like protesting in the United States. Those who occupy Wall Street do so with little consequence. Those who do get arrested for occupying the Brooklyn Bridge are soon released. The same cannot be said of those who protest in Cuba. Once you are identified as an opponent of the Castro regime you become a target of repudiation and that target will remain for the rest of your life. Laura Pollan understood those consequences full well and yet stood up for what she believed to be right. If those who occupy Wall Street and elsewhere want to understand what true bravery is then I would suggest they take a look at the life of Laura Pollan. Because as it stands right now they have no comprehension of what courage really is.
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H/T to National Review Online