Cuban exiles plan a demonstration march in downtown Los Angeles to support Cuban dissidents The Ladies in White during this week’s Papal visit to the island.

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On Wednesday March 28th, a group of Cuban women will attend the noon mass at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles and then march to City hall to express their support for peaceful Cuban dissidents, The Ladies in White.

Ladies in White

The Ladies in White and other peaceful dissidents will be barred from attending the Papal masses.

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cuba for three days this week, the first visit by a Pope to Cuba since Pope John Paul’s visit in 1998. The Ladies in White, Cuban dissidents who have been accused of traitorous anti revolutionary acts by the Cuban government, have requested to meet with the Pope, but all requests made by them and other Cuban dissidents have been denied. The Pope will celebrate public masses in Santiago de Cuba and in Havana. Government repression against dissident groups who support democratic reform has increased in recent weeks before the Pope’s visit, and it has been reported by sources inside the island that The Ladies in White and other peaceful dissidents will be barred from attending the Papal masses. The protest march in Los Angeles coincides with the Papal mass that will take place in Havana’s Revolution Square on Wednesday March 28th.

The Ladies in White who wear white to symbolize peace and carry gladiolas to symbolize love, began marching in 2003 to peacefully protest the imprisonment of their husbands, sons and brothers during the “Cuban Black Spring”. It was during this time that 75 journalists, artists, and librarians were arrested and sentenced to 6 to 28 years in prison by the government. Recently, the Vatican brokered the release of these prisoners of conscience most of whom were forced into exile in Spain. Nevertheless, The Ladies in White continue to march peacefully every Sunday, enduring physical and psychological repression by the government. Their message calls for peace, freedom and the advancement of human rights for all Cubans who have been living under totalitarian rule for more than fifty years.

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