Cuba's 'Ladies in White' wins prestigious prize

October 27, 2005

Miami Herald- Frances Robles

The ladies wear white and march in protest down Havana's Fifth Avenue, flowers in hand.

Sometimes, bystanders hurl insults at these women who dare to defy. They are the 'Ladies in White,' formed two years ago to demand the release of their husbands, political prisoners in a country where speaking out against the government is a subversive act worth 25 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Cuba's Damas de Blanco were one of three winners of the European Union's 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, considered one of Europe's most prestigious human rights awards. The prize underscores the emerging international significance of a group of ladies -- housewives -- who take to the street every Sunday after church. They are reminiscent of Argentina's Madres de Plaza de Mayo, who started quiet marches in downtown Buenos Aires looking for their missing kids and wound up a major human rights organization.

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