US President Barack Obama recently visited Cuba, on a mission to help normalize relations between two Cold War enemies.

Before his arrival, the Cuban government arrested more than 50 of the so-called “Ladies in White”, much to the chagrin of the international community, with opposition reporting the arrests at more than 180.


So who exactly are these “Ladies in White”?

  • They are the wives of political prisoners.
  • Prisoners were journalists and activists that were silenced by the Cuban regime.
  • Political prisoners were tried in one-day trials and sentenced to six to 28 years in jail.
  • The women march in protest every Sunday, ever since the arrests in 2003.
  • In 2005 they were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament.
  • Even though all 75 of the original prisoners were released, the “Ladies in White” have become a symbol for freeing all political prisoners and dissidents.
  • The pro-regime Cuban community says that these protesters are US-funded activists, focused on destabilizing the Cuban regime.
  • Many were arrested, put under house-arrest and were not permitted to leave their homes during Obama’s visit. This was a provocation against Obama. Most probably Fidel Castro was behind this harsh welcome, as he dislikes America still.
  • Most were freed later that same day, but it is unknown how many were arrested longer.


In fact, the repression was so strong, that an activist named Elizardo Sanchez felt that he was only allowed to leave because a car from the US Embassy picked him up at his home. He said later “The Cuban government treats us like we’re not humans… I know the Cuban government was furious over this meeting. So I think the main objective of President Obama was accomplished — he sent a very clear message of support for human rights and for us.”


Listen to President Obama speak on human rights in Cuba.


Photo Credit: Twitter user @DamasdBlancoLink to tweet.