Friday, May 03, 2013

Berta Soler at the Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies

An Information Service of the
Cuba Transition Project
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies
University of Miami
Issue 189
May 2, 2013

Berta Soler at the Institute for
Cuban & Cuban-American Studies
Berta Soler, Head of the Ladies in White in Cuba, is visiting Europe and the U.S. On April 27th, she held a press conference at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies/Casa Bacardi.
Following are the highlights of Berta Soler’s statement to the media:
  • There is growing solidarity with the Ladies in White on the streets, specifically “anonymous solidarity” as many remain fearful of the repercussions of speaking publicly in support of the Damas.
  • The U.S. should maintain the U.S. trade embargo and limit travel to the island until the Raul Castro government respects human rights.
  • Castro’s economic and migration reforms are merely “cosmetic.” She acknowledged that her hard-line views differ from those of other government critics.
  • All dissidents agree that the Castro system must end. Wearing the traditional white clothes that the Ladies in White use during their protests, the 49-year old microbiology lab technician called for "harsh treatment" of the Castro regime, including maintaining the half-century old U.S. embargo "to take away the Cuban government's oxygen."
  • While Cuban-American visitors deliver some cash and other benefits to their relatives on the island, Soler argued that other U.S. visitors spend most of their money on state-owned hotels and tourist facilities. Castro's economic reforms are “nothing more than cosmetic.” She called the changes in the immigration system-credited with allowing her and half a dozen other dissidents to travel abroad for the first time in years- “the same dog with a different collar.” Although the government removed the requirement for the much hated “exit permit” in January, authorities can still deny passport applications or put “no travel” flags on the official records of any Cuban.
  • Dissidents in Cuba require more financial support from abroad because the government, which is almost the island’s only employer, denies them jobs and other income yet calls them “mercenaries” paid by the U.S. government.
  • “Nobody pays us” to oppose the government. Soler said the Ladies in White distribute assistance from abroad to women with relatives in prison or who need help with transportation, food, clothes, and medical care.
  • Soler blamed the Cuban government for the October 14, 2011 death of Laura Pollán, who founded the Ladies in White in 2003 to bring together the female relatives of dissidents arrested in the Black Spring crackdown. Pollán, who suffered from diabetes but did not require insulin, was feeling ill for several days and went into a hospital for treatment. “She was doped up in order to kill her,” Soler declared. The official cause of death was listed as cardio-respiratory failure.
  • The primary entity that promotes and perpetuates racism in Cuba is the Cuban government, she emphasized.
  • Berta discussed the growing role of the Catholic Church but noted that as of late Cardinal Ortega is either out of the country or too busy to see them.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at The CTP Website is accessible at

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