Between hugs, handshakes and some tears we said goodbye at the Havana aiport last night, Sunday, 10 March, to the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler.
She was accompanied more than fifty of these brave women and about thirty friends and admirers (including the political police brigade that never misses these events) but not along the the usual route of the Ladies in White through the streets of Cuba to demand freedom for political prisoners. Rather she is taking advantage of a part of Law No. 13, embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, violated for 53 years by the authorities of the Cuban government led by Fidel Castro Ruz, before, and now by his brother Raul Castro the leader of the Communist party, the only party allowed to exist under the constitution created by them and approved by fear. A violation that had motivated thousands of Cubans to make an out-of-control exodus in which many lost their lives trying to escape the dictatorship. For 53 years Cubans could only leave the island to work in international missions (serving as doctors and other positions), in sports delegations, or on cultural tours, all well-controlled by government authorities, but still many members risked desertion under the strict eyes of State Security. Thus numerous talents in all branches of learning and doing fled the island.
A few minutes before leaving this reporter asked Berta Soler two questions:
What will make you return to Cuba?
Berta: My commitment to my people, to political prisoners who remain in prison, to freedom. To demand the rights that are still violated by the dictatorship. I go out into the world only to bear witness to the truth of Cuba and to fight for our rights. We are not mercenaries as we are painted by the dictatorship but patriots, people of any social class who lose the fear of repression and hold to citizenship in search of democracy.
Are you afraid to return home?
Berta: No, not at all. Fear of the tyrant has plunged this country into misery, has made this people mediocre and isolated from the rest of the world, not knowing how to relate to their own brothers. Even the government itself has confessed that it has failed to create a generation within the Party capable of replacing the old and worn out satraps who govern. God willing, I will return to new streets, that do not belong to the Party, to a government or to a dynasty, but to all Cubans, those here and our brothers who have been banished into exile, because for me we have all been banished, expelled from out country, the land that by right belongs to us.
Now on the point of crossing over the high wall of the Revolution, her husband, Angel Moya Acosto, a political prisoner from the Black Spring Group of 75, hugs her and says, “Do the right thing, not one step back. Our best weapon is the truth. Give the world this message. We are here, waiting for you.”
Laughter, applause, excitement, and the cameras clicking, until the Afro-Cubana leader is lost behind the curtains of customs.
11 March 2013