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12 October, 2011

Cuba: Outpouring of Support for Las Damas' Leader

Outpouring of Support for Las Damas' Leader
Posted by: "PL"   cubaverdad
Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:11 am (PDT)

Cuba: Outpouring of Support for Las Damas' Leader
Posted 10 October 2011 20:46 GMT
Written byJanine Mendes-Franco

Over the weekend, the leader of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies 
in White), Laura Pollan, fell ill. News of her hospitalization has come 
on the heels of successive weekends of the opposition group - along with 
other human rights activists - being targeted, allegedly on account of 
their anti-government protests.

Bloggers, both on the island and throughout the diaspora, reached out 
online to offer their support and wishes for Pollan's recovery.

Uncommon Sense spoke of Pollan's influence and courage in the fight for 
the rights of political prisoners in Cuba:

Pollan is one of the more fearless figures in the Cuban opposition, 
bravely leading the Damas on peaceful marches in Havana and other cities 
on behalf of their imprisoned loved ones and other political prisoners
in Cuba. She has carried forth the group's campaign even after her 
husband, Hector Maseda, was released earlier this year after 8 years in 

Last month, Pollan and other Damas were attacked by a Castroite mob 
sent to block them from marching in Havana to commemorate a religious 
feast day. News coverage included a photograph of Pollan and another 
marcher being pushed against a wall by a mob.

Please keep this courageous woman and her family in your prayers.

Along the Malecon posted two updates yesterday: the first, a link of an 
interview with Pollan (before she fell ill) talking about the 
experiences Las Damas have endured in their fight. The post ends by saying:

Fellow members of Las Damas de Blanco marched on Sunday along 
Quinta Avenida in Havana and prayed for the dissident leader they said 
Pollan was in intensive care with respiratory problems caused by an 
as-yet-unknown virus.

The blog's second update contains an interview with Pollan's husband,
which Yoani Sanchez posted via twitpic. The blogger, Tracey Eaton, 
summed it up this way:

He said his overall impression after visiting Pollan was 'very 
positive. Maseda is a former political prisoner whose imprisonment 
inspired Pollan to help start Las Damas de Blanco, dedicated to freeing 
all political prisoners.

In the face of limited information about Pollan's condition, words 
seemed inadequate; some bloggers simply posted photo tributes to the Las 
Damas leader.

Generation Y, though, thought it important to talk about the messages 
sent about activists like Laura Pollan through the state media and the 
seemingly increasing number of Cubans who choose not to believe them:

Cubans increasingly doubt what they are told, begin to read between 
the lines, and interpret, in reverse, information in the national media.
The disbelief has gotten to the point where insult is deciphered as 
praise and vice versa. Those demonized by partisan publications are thus 
transformed into admired beings -- albeit in a whisper ---
and even those fired from the government apparatus acquire a 
certain aura of appeal.

Knowing this peculiar phenomenon of reinterpretation, the number of 
people who have called me to ask about the health of Laura Pollan does 
not surprise me. The great number of friends and onlookers who have
gathered outside the Calixto Garcia Hospital emergency room where she 
was admitted for acute respiratory distress is comforting. Considering 
all the insults, curses, and lies that have been launched against this 
woman on the official television, the reactions of so many Cubans in 
solidarity with her is a revelation. The dozens of text messages 
transmitting medical reports about the leader of the Ladies in White, 
the prayers at shrines throughout Cuba, and the encouragement from so 
many other peaceful activists, are the major silencers of this shrill 
character who  "in our living rooms"  launches into a tirade we no 
longer believe in.

Global Voices will post updates on Ms. Pollan's condition as they become 

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