When anyone today mentions the ladies of Havana, there is a tendency to immediately think of “Las Damas de Blanco” (aka The Ladies in White). This is a group of women who have become a symbol of defiance against the totalitarian government of Cuba since 2003. They do it every week with the celebration of The Holy Mass. Many of these women have suffered the loss of their spouse (to lengthy prison sentences) due to a widespread crackdown by the government on any dissenting voices.
The Ladies attained notoriety for their continued protest and the manner in which they have done it. They regularly gather on Sundays dressed in their white attire (symbol of peace), attend The Holy Mass, and then walk the streets in silence; with flowers in their hands. For this they have been ostracized, harassed, beaten and jailed. These women are exercising some of the most basic rights we in America hold near to our hearts.
· Freedom of Assembly
· Freedom to Worship
· Freedom of Speech (or in their case silence)
This freedom they are exercising was fought for on American Soil 200 plus years ago by General Washington and his Continental Army, against another brutal dictator (King George of England). Interestingly enough at one point during that fight the American patriots were running low on money and supplies. Washington sent a representative to Havana to appeal for help and the (Ladies of Havana of the 1700’s) donated their jewelry so that it could be sold and the proceeds used to help General Washington and his Continental Army.
Today’s “Ladies in White” are certainly the spiritual heirs of their Great-Great-Grandmothers, who helped Washington because they believed in Liberty, just as these Ladies do.
Will we in America sell our jewelry today, stand on our soapbox and speak up for them?
What would General Washington do today to help these ladies if he were still, “President Washington”?