Cuba’s Ladies in White Honor Late Leader

The Ladies in White, a group comprising relatives of political prisoners, honored deceased leader Laura Pollan on Friday with the opening of a museum inside her home in the Cuban capital, The Latin American Herald Tribune reports.

For now, the museum mainly consists of photographs of Pollan displayed in the main room of her Havana residence, Ladies spokesperson Berta Soler told Efe.

Pollan died last month of cardio-respiratory failure while battling dengue fever and a flu virus. She was 63.

The idea of honoring Pollan originated with her daughter and fellow activist, Laura Labrada, and was quickly embraced by 50 other members of the Ladies in White who were present at a gathering Friday in the capital, Soler said.

Pollan was the wife of independent journalist Hector Maseda, one of the “Group of 75” dissidents rounded up and jailed by the Cuban government in “Black Spring” of 2003.

The harsh sentences imposed on their loved ones led Pollan and other female kin of the Group of 75 to form the Ladies in White and begin weekly silent processions through Havana to demand the release of all of Cuba’s political prisoners.

The last prisoners from among the Group of 75 were freed in March, concluding a process that began in July 2010 in the context of a Spanish-supported dialogue between President Raul Castro and Cuba’s Catholic hierarchy.

Fifty-two of the Group of 75 remained behind bars at the time of the agreement.

One died in prison in February 2010 after a prolonged hunger strike and the rest had been previously paroled on medical grounds.

Though Cuba is no longer holding anyone meeting Amnesty International’s criteria for a prisoner of conscience, dissidents say the island’s prisons still contain people who were prosecuted and sentenced for political reasons and the Ladies in White have continued their activism.

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