Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Laura Pollan: Freedom fighter. REUTERS
Laura Pollan: Freedom fighter. REUTERS View Enlarged Image
Freedom: Laura Pollan Toledo was a humble schoolteacher who led Cuba's defiant Ladies in White. She died Friday in Havana. But she left a legacy of untold courage that terrified Cuba's long-communist dictatorship.

As surely as the sun will rise, a day will come when Cuba is free of its 52-year Marxist nightmare. And when its history is written, it's likely to begin with the story of Laura Pollan Toledo, the wife of an arrested dissident who shined a light on the totalitarian nature of the regime for all the world to see.

Pollan was a founder of the Ladies in White, the noted group of dissidents' wives who silently walked in procession, wearing white and carrying gladiolus flowers. They attended Mass together at St. Rita's Church to pray for their husbands' return.

They never made public statements, but the Castro regime understood the power of their silent protest and its global impact. For that, they considered Pollan a threat.

Pollan and the others, mostly wives of 75 dissidents arrested in the Black Spring of 2003, were followed, insulted, harassed, threatened, beaten by mobs and menaced for silently witnessing to the truth about Cuba's lack of human freedom.

Pollan died in a Cuban hospital of dengue fever and a viral infection, in the end at the mercy of Cuba's collapsing state health system, refusing transfer to an elite medical facility as the publicity-nervous regime offered.

It's hard to imagine the courage that Pollan's simple act of witness took, in a regime that considers going to church a threat to the state.

In Castro's island hellhole, praised by the Hollywood and congressional left, free speech is forbidden. Calling for elections brings a knock on the door at midnight. Trying to leave the island brings prison — even death.
Yet amid this island prison just 90 miles from our shores, Pollan and her friends stood up for truth.
She died without seeing the free Cuba she longed for. Still, the pure flame of her courage changed Cuba in ways large and small, and helped set it on a path of ultimate liberation. RIP


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