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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gloria Estefan Leads Damas de Blanco March Today

The march may only be five short blocks, but the message is a strong one: peace in Cuba.

At 6 p.m., Gloria Estefan will lead a group of peaceful protestors in a march to support Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group of wives and mothers whose relatives are in prison for opposing Fidel Castro's government.

After the march, which will begin at Beacom Blvd. between 7th and 8th Streets and go from 22nd to 27th Avenues, Estefan is expected to thank participants, read a poem and sing the Cuban and U.S. national anthems.

Anyone participating is aked to where white and walk in silence. Shirts, which will be replicas of the ones used in Cuba by the Damas de Blanco, will also be made.

After seeing women protesters dragged through the streets in Cuba, Gloria Estefan figured the best way to fight the injustice was to dress in white and carry on the march.

"Cubans and non-Cubans alike that live in liberty need to take the opportunity at this moment in history to come together and show them that we care," Estefan said at a press conference, "We are all united in the love and the need for a free Cuba and freedom for the Cuban people that are enslaved right now on the island."

The protest is expected to be peaceful, unlike the one held in Havana on March 17, when the Ladies in White were attacked by Cuban police, dragged into buses and hauled away. (Source)

Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) protesting in Cuba

Cuban police grabbed members of the opposition group "Ladies in White" by their hair, dragged them into a bus and drove them away to break up a protest march on Wednesday.

The white clothes the women traditionally wear were smeared with mud as they resisted policewomen forcing them into a bus. Government protesters shouted insults at them for the second day in a row.

The march was the third this week by the Ladies in White who are protesting the 2003 imprisonment of their husbands and sons, most of whom are still in jail.

The seventh anniversary of the crackdown, known as the "Black Spring," is Thursday, when the women said they will march again.

On Wednesday, they attended a mass in the working class neighborhood of Parraga and began walking toward the nearby home of dissident Orlando Fundora, who began a hunger strike last week.

As the 30 or so women walked along carrying flowers, about 200 government supporters marched alongside, separated by security agents.

"Worms, get out of here. Viva Fidel! Viva Raul!" the government supporters shouted, referring to former president Fidel Castro and his brother, current President Raul Castro, the only leaders Cuba has since the 1959 communist revolution.

For their part, the women shouted "Freedom" and "Zapata lives." Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an imprisoned dissident died from an 85-day hunger strike on February 23 and has become a rallying point for Cuba's opposition. His mother, Reyna Tamayo, took part in the march.

Cuba has been condemned internationally for Zapata's death and its treatment of another hunger striker, Guillermo Farinas, who has been in a hospital receiving fluids intravenously since he collapsed on Thursday.

Fundora, a former political prisoner, was also said to be in hospital after beginning his hunger strike a week ago. 

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