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Latino Daily News

Sunday June 2, 2013

Ladies in White May Look to Expand Movement in Cuba

Ladies in White May Look to Expand Movement in Cuba

Photo: Ladies in White

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The leader of the Cuban dissident group Ladies in White, Berta Soler, said Sunday that she would like to broaden the movement on the island as part of her near-term plans after the three-month international tour she concluded early this past week.

“We left (Cuba) seeking resources so that the organization may grow to the national level,” Soler told Efe after attending Mass at Havana’s Santa Rita de Casia church and after the regular peaceful weely procession by the Ladies in White, a march that attracted 70 participants on Sunday.

Soler, 49, is trying to create delegations all over the island and to increase the group’s membership, which she said currently stands at 230.

She insisted that her 78-day tour to several European countries and the United States “was worth the effort.”

“We left to denounce what the Cuban government is selling, so that the international community would get to know firsthand the reality of the Cuban people, the political prisoners, the Ladies in White and the human rights activists,” Soler said.

“We also went to seek (funding) for the human rights activists and their children, moral and spiritual solidarity on the part of the international community and because the support in resources from the Cuban exiles was much stronger,” she added.

In her first trip off the communist island, Soler traveled to Spain, Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Puerto Rico and the United States, along with other countries.

During her trip, Soler - accompanied by Laura Labrada, the daughter of the opposition group’s late leader, Laura Pollan, and Belkis Cantillo - attended a ceremony in Brussels, where she collected the Sakharov Award presented to the Ladies in White by the European Parliament in 2005.

Soler is one of about 20 Cuban dissidents who have traveled abroad since January 14, when a regulation entered into force making travel by Cubans easier. Among the other figures who have made trips off the island since that time are blogger Yoani Sanchez, activist Elizardo Sanchez, computer engineer Eliecer Avila and Rosa Maria Paya, the daughter of late opposition figure Oswaldo Paya.