14YMEDIO, Havana, 10 September 2014 – A schism with the Ladies in White has given birth to a new women’s group called “Citizens for Democracy.” Last Monday, during the feast of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, the recently created movement held it’s first public activity with a pilgrimage of seventy women to the Sanctuary of Cobre in Santiago de Cuba.
Citizens for Democracy is led by Belkis Cantillo and consists mostly of women from Palma Soriano, Palmarito del Cauto and the city of Santiago de Cuba itself. At least thirty of them come from the Ladies in White group, from which they separated some days ago because of disagreements between Berta Soler and Cantillo herself.
The reason for this separation was explained as “gross indiscipline” allegedly committed by several members of the Ladies in White in the eastern area of the country, which provoked the removal of Cantillo as local representative of the movement. Soler, for her part, declared that “every person can join or found a party or a group if they feel badly in another and if they are not able to abide by the rules of the Ladies in White.”
Belkis Cantillo was a member of the Ladies in White from its origins in 2003 after the imprisonment of 75 dissidents in the so-called “Black Spring.” Her ex-husband is the opponent Jose Daniel Ferrer, who heads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).
Berta Soler hopes that the Citizens for Democracy will “succeed as human rights activists.”