On Sunday, October 14th, a gathering in Havana of the famous Damas de Blanco or “Ladies in White” resulted in the detention of twenty women, while two disappeared, and two were hospitalized.
As they do every Sunday, the Ladies in White – women who march to demand the release of political prisoners – went to mass to pray before demonstrating.
The whereabouts of María Cristina Labrada and Micaela Roll are still unknown. Through the official page of the Ladies in White on Twitter, their disappearance was announced.
The organization also reported that two ladies were admitted to a psychiatric hospital: Charidad Burunate and Tania Echeverría.
Both women left Burunate’s house, and were stopped before they even arrived at church. State security forces were waiting for them outside the house, where they were intercepted.
These women are subject to a double dose of repression on a daily basis. On the one hand, their freedom of expression is limited, as they question a regime that does not allow dissent. On the other hand, according to postulates of Karl Marx, socialism states that “religion is the opium of the masses” and therefore materialism must prevail over the spiritual, so that religion is persecuted as it serves as a distraction from the revolution .
In the time of Che Guevara, for example, there existed in Cuba the UMAP (Military Units of Production Aid) where the men who were not considered fit for the armed revolution were sent.
To the surprise of many, religious people and homosexuals were interned there. When socialism advances, whoever has a love-whether it is towards someone of the same sex or through a connection with the divine- which is deemed to threaten the revolution, is deemed an enemy of it. For love is considered “a bourgeois fetish.”
Likewise, it was considered a weakness to love and that reduced the capacities for being of service to the state in time of war. In the case of religious people, this was strengthened, because they did not recognize an earthly government, but a celestial one, and this rendered them useless at the moment of receiving the orders of a commander who could order them to violate one of the Ten Commandments, as in the case of “thou shall not kill.”
And so, anyone who did not think as the regime demanded began to be sent to the concentration camps.
One of them was the singer Pablo Milanés who managed to escape and ended up in prison first and then in a forced labor camp with even more cruel conditions.
He states that the Castro era involved “condemning thousands of young boys to concentration camps simply because they thought freely, not even because they thought otherwise, but because they were free thinkers and had opinions.”
That is, any behavior that does not fit within the requirements of the revolution, be it related to faith, sexuality, or ideas, could then and can still deprive a Cuban of his freedom.
Today, half a century after the revolution, the exercise of faith is still being persecuted in Cuba, as well as the consideration of unaccepted political or philosophical ideals that differ in any way from Marxist orthodoxy.
The Ladies in White are the living testimony of that.